New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a major capacity increase at the state's racetracks and other outdoor large-scale sports and entertainment facilities Wednesday.
The new order, which takes effect May 19, permits venue capacity to as much space as needed to meet the six-feet apart social distancing mandate. Another key part of the mandate is that fully vaccinated fans can be spaced next to one another, rather than six-feet apart, in areas that are separate from non-vaccinated patrons.
“NYRA joins sports and entertainment venues throughout the state in thanking Governor Cuomo for providing us with the opportunity to dramatically expand capacity beginning on May 19,” said NYRA's Pat McKenna. “New York is turning the page on the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are looking forward to a tremendous summer ahead at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. NYRA welcomed fans back to Belmont Park this past Saturday for the first time in 552 days, and we will soon release additional ticket inventory for the 2021 Belmont Stakes to reflect this new guidance and safely welcome even more fans to one of racing's biggest days on June 5.”
The announcement came just one day prior to tickets going on sale for the June 5 GI Belmont S. It was also just four days after Belmont opened to fans for the first time in over a year May 1 under an order that announced 20% capacity in mid-April. The increase in capacity also comes in plenty of time for the ultra-popular Saratoga meet.
“As Governor Cuomo announced, it's now possible for stadiums and racetracks to open sections at 100% capacity by requiring all spectators within those areas to be vaccinated,” McKenna said. “Saratoga Race Course is an ideal venue to implement just that approach for the benefit of our fans, the upstate economy and the thoroughbred racing industry in New York State.”
He continued, “While we determine exactly how this guidance will apply to Saratoga Race Course, which offers a wide variety of differentiated sections and seating options, we are tremendously optimistic about the 2021 summer meet. NYRA is committed to safely welcoming as many fans as possible by utilizing all areas including the backyard and offering ticket options that are fair and equitable.”