Increased capacity at Arlington Park this weekend? Hold your horses
Although the state is letting businesses and other venues return to full capacity on Friday, Arlington Park officials are pulling in the reins on any immediate plans to add seats.
"We've sold our seating packages through June, so it wouldn't be fair to some who bought those packages in advance to offer more desirable seats that weren't available under the previous phase," said Tony Petrillo, Arlington Park's president.
Petrillo said July 2 is the earliest the track would offer additional seating. At that point, he expects the track to increase from a capacity of 4,500 to 8,000.
What will change this weekend is that paddock seating will be available and fully vaccinated visitors won't have to wear masks, Petrillo said.
"With the paddock opening, people love to go out there and be able to watch the horses," he said.
The track is limited, like most businesses in Illinois, to 60% capacity. But it's been difficult for the track to even hit that mark because staffing has been such an issue, as it has at many other service-related businesses.
"If we cannot hire a sufficient number of personnel to provide a safe environment and quality experience, we will have to limit capacity to levels at which we're able to hire people," Petrillo said last week.
Meanwhile, tickets are still available for this weekend and much of next weekend. Visit arlingtonpark.com/tickets for more details. Racing is Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. Next week, Sunday, June 20, is added because of Father's Day. Sunday racing resumes in July for much of the rest of summer, according to the track's calendar. Races are run from 2:25 to 6:30 p.m. most days.
Arlington opened April 30 amid pandemic restrictions in what is likely to be its final year. Track owner Churchill Downs is selling the 326 acres of prime real estate at Euclid Avenue and Wilke Road, with proposals due by Tuesday from interested developers and investors.
So far this season, racing spectators have had to abide by health rules including buying tickets online, entering at staggered times and remaining in their seating areas unless in line for concessions, restrooms or wagering.