EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The new, $88-million Meadowlands Racetrack opened Saturday night to a large crowd on a blustery night marked by occasional snow squalls.
Since admission was free, no exact crowd figure was available. Track officials estimated the turnout at 15,000 as the ground floor was jammed with fans, including some who sat in traffic for over 30 minutes.
The new Meadowlands replaces the old one, which is located on the other side of the one-mile oval racing surface. Its grandstand can seat 2,200, and the clubhouse, simulcasting area, bars, upscale restaurant, sky boxes, corporate meeting rooms and outdoor terraces can hold 10,000.
''To all the people who helped, and there are many of you, and for all the people who are here tonight, I hope you enjoy what you see,'' said Jeff Gural, chairman of New Meadowlands Racetrack, LLC. ''It's not only racing, it's also entertainment.''
Alexie Mattosie won the first race at the new facility, pacing the mile in 1:50 4/5 with David Miller at the lines. They were greeted in the winner's circle by Hall of Fame driver Ray Remmen, who won the first race at the original Meadowlands with Quick Baron in 1976.