For more information, contact:
Jim Jenkins, Marketing Manager
Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room
Glen White, Corporate Communications
Delaware North Companies
Club celebrates 60th anniversary with launch of "Las Vegas-style" entertainment destination
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 2, 2008) - The new $30 million Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room celebrated its grand opening today, offering Central Florida residents and tourists 50 poker tables and a variety of amenities for a "Las Vegas-style" experience.
The new complex ? under construction on Williamson Road for more than a year and built to meet "green" building standards ? replaces the club's longtime home adjacent to Daytona International Speedway.
Local dignitaries and representatives of global hospitality provider Delaware North Companies, which owns and operates the club, cut the ribbon on the new complex at a noon ceremony. Coincidentally, the club also marked the 60th anniversary of its June 2, 1948 opening at the original site.
First known as the Volusia County Kennel Club, the popular pari-mutuel racetrack added a 30-table poker room in 1997. But in recent years the facility could no longer accommodate its fast-growing poker audience or provide the type of amenities today's players are seeking.
"Although the old and new facilities are within a mile of each other, they're really worlds apart," said Dan Francati, the club's president and general manager. "Now we're a real entertainment destination."
"We're offering people a modern facility with state-of-the-art technology, a wide array of hospitality and dining, and a big-league poker room and other entertainment. It's more of a Las Vegas-style experience, which we think will attract more visitors for longer stays. We're changing with the times," Francati said.
The new facility's 53,000-square-foot facility features the poker room ? double the size of the old one and able to accommodate 450 players ? a full-service restaurant, diverse concessions, and a state-of-the-art simulcast center with private betting carrels. There, thanks to more than 260 televisions, patrons can track their wagers on thoroughbred and greyhound races from around the country while viewing other sports action.
Racing Tradition Continues
Of course, the new club also preserves the tradition and spectacle of live greyhound racing in Daytona Beach with what is believed to be the first new greyhound racetrack built in the United States since 1995. May 17 saw the last race at the old facility, and the old poker room continued operating until May 20. The new facility opened to the public on May 23.
Francati said the live greyhound racing is continuing as a significant offering at the new club, which he hopes will bring new racing patrons to complement the solid base of veterans who have been coming for many years.
"I think we can attract new fans coming for poker and our simulcasts or even folks just looking for something different to do for an afternoon or night out," Francati said.
At the new club, fans are closer to the racing action than at the old racetrack, which featured a two-story grandstand. "It's much more intimate, letting people really see how fast these dogs can run and how exciting the races are," Francati said.
Francati said the Daytona Beach club's racing offering is backed by the years of experience that Delaware North, through its Gaming & Entertainment division, has in operating Daytona and several similar venues. In addition to Daytona, the company has invested millions of dollars to renovate and add gaming and other entertainment amenities at two other longtime greyhound racing venues: Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack in West Virginia, which added poker and table games in December, and Southland Park Gaming & Racing near Memphis.
"We are proud to be making a significant investment toward a new facility that employs more residents and helps expand tourism in Daytona Beach," said William J. Bissett, president of Delaware North Gaming & Entertainment.
The new Daytona Beach complex employs 400, an increase of 50 from the employment level at the old facility.
The club will also continue its strong support of the Greyhound Pets of America chapter in Daytona Beach, which serves as a temporary home for retired racing greyhounds and works toward their adoption as family pets.
Enhanced Hospitality and Entertainment
Delaware North also operates Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, lodging and dining at Yosemite and other national and state parks, and food service and retail at 20 airports and more than 40 sports stadiums, ballparks, and arenas. The company employs hundreds of chefs at its venues worldwide. Its culinary team is overseen by Corporate Chef Roland Henin, one of about 60 certified master chefs in the country. With that foundation plus a new, modern facility, the Daytona Beach club is significantly enhancing the hospitality it can offer patrons, Francati said.
"We have a full-service dining room with a menu featuring everything from steaks and seafood to appetizers and sandwiches. Plus, we have full-service concessions with indoor and outdoor seating for racing," he said.
Most exciting, Francati said, is poker room patrons can order food and drinks and eat while continuing to play at their table.
Likewise, the new simulcast center offers patrons the opportunity to immerse themselves in racing and sports from around the country. Televisions ? 209 of them ? cover the walls, and another 56 private televisions, or "personal use terminals," are available for self-wagering so patrons do not have to go to a teller. Or, patrons can wait to place wagers with one of the club's walk-around tellers, who are armed with wireless electronic keypads.
Riding the Poker Wave
During the 11 years since the poker room was added at the old facility, the game's popularity has exploded nationally and around the world. Residents and tourists in the Daytona Beach and Central Florida have joined in, pushing the limits of the former 30-table poker room and the post-World War II building that served as its home.
Earlier this year the club held a very successful Texas Hold 'Em tournament in which two of the winners qualified to play in the World Series of Poker. Francati said he expects to draw local players seeking to play in national events, as well as professional players from around the country.
"The 50-table poker room at the new facility enables the club to step up its recent focus on higher limit tournament play "to become the region's poker leader," he said.
But beginners and casual players will still find 25- and 50-cent games, plus 35 flat-screen televisions in the new poker room so they can track racing wagers and watch sports events while playing.
New Players Card
At the new facility, the club has introduced a Players Card to reward frequent patrons with food, wagering vouchers and other prizes. Patrons accumulate points for their wagers in any of the club's three entertainment areas: poker, live greyhound racing, and simulcast greyhound, harness, and thoroughbred racing and Jai-Alai.
"This is a tremendous value to reward our top customers and provide an incentive for folks to visit us more often," Francati said.
As a special kickoff promotion, players can earn double the usual number of points every Tuesday in June.
Delaware North also brought an environmentally friendly "green" approach to the construction and operation of the new club, Francati said.
The company pioneered an environmentally friendly approach to hospitality when it began providing lodging and food service at Yosemite National Park in California in the mid-1990s. Delaware North subsequently obtained third-party certification of its Parks & Resorts locations by implementing a proprietary GreenPath® environmental management system. In recent years it has implemented GreenPath at its corporate headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y., and begun to do so at other company operations, including gaming venues.
As a result, the new club is seeking silver certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) sustainable building program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. The certification is determined based on assessing buildings in five key areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
About 95 percent of all construction waste from the project has been recycled. The new facility is 40 percent more water efficient and 25 percent more energy efficient than the old complex.
"We'll save approximately 350,000 gallons of water per year with ultra-low-flow faucets and urinals," Francati said. "Plus, our landscaping will consist of plants that are adaptable to the dry climate, including Bahia grass, which is drought-resistant turf."
Additional information about the new Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room is available at www.DaytonaPokerGreyhound.com.
About Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment
Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment is one of the most innovative gaming and racing operators in the country, specializing in racing venues with added amenities, including video gaming machines, poker rooms, full service restaurants, retail shops and lodging. The company oversees more than 5,500 video gaming machines across the country and operates at seven successful racing and gaming operations in New York, Arizona, Florida, West Virginia, Arkansas and Latin America. To date, Delaware North Companies is one of only five operators of video gaming machines at racetrack locations in New York State. The company is owned by Delaware North Companies, a global leader in hospitality and one of the largest privately held companies in the world. www.DelawareNorth.com.
About Delaware North Companies
Delaware North Companies is one of the world's leading hospitality and food service providers. Its family of companies includes Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, Delaware North Companies Gaming & Entertainment, Delaware North Companies Travel Hospitality Services, Delaware North Companies Sportservice, Delaware North Companies International and Delaware North Companies Boston, owner of TD Banknorth Garden. Delaware North Companies is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States with revenues exceeding $2 billion annually and 40,000 associates serving half a billion customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. For more information, visit www.DelawareNorth.com.