Breeders’ Cup Management to Pitch In for Event Security Costs

Santa Anita Track

As the time comes near for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup World Championship horse races, the Arcadia city council has decided that it will be necessary to charge the event management for half of the cost of non-traffic related public safety services, passed at the meeting on August 18.

The 26th annual Breeders’ Cup World Championship, which marks the end of the season for Thoroughbred racing, will take place November 6 and 7 at the Santa Anita Racetrack.

In the past, public safety services were provided at no cost to the Breeders’ Cup, though the city has charged the race track for some other events in the past.

In 2008, the total cost for police and fire services to the city came to nearly $60,000 that were absorbed by city departments, said Captain Gene Gioia of the Arcadia police department. The 50 percent charge to the management aims to recover some of the costs for this year.

The event as a whole is expected to cost less due to the association’s reduced planning needs this year, the city reports.

The proposal came about when reviewing the event’s cost last year and this year’s financial situation, Gioia said.

Some concerns were raised at the August 18 meeting about the timing of the ordinance and the direct financial benefit to the city for having the event. It was also noted that one of the managing associations is a big supporter of the Arcadia police department’s mounted enforcement.

However, city officials said the fee was necessary to avoid having taxpayers pay for the public safety services.

“It is a little late in the process and perhaps we should have done it earlier, but it’s something that needed to be done,” said Councilmember Robert Harbicht. “We, like all other cities, are looking at a tight budget.”

According to Gioia, the police department did a survey of how other cities manage their services, such as in Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, the Del Mar Race Track in San Diego and the fairgrounds in Pomona. City officials report that it is common for venues to pay at least a part of the costs.

There have been no major security issues at the Breeders’ Cup in the past, both city and race track officials report.

“We attribute that fact to the proactive law enforcement stance we taken,” Gioia said.

According to Pete Siberell, Director of Community Service & Special Projects for Santa Anita Park, the fees are reasonable.

“We understand the city has had to bear the expense and we feel it’s fair to split the cost between the (event management) and the city,” he said.

The races are hosted in varying locations so different parts of the country can see it, Siberell said. This is the fifth year that the Breeders’ Cup has come to Arcadia since 1982, and the first time the event has taken place in the same city for two consecutive years.

“We’ve had a very smooth experience in Arcadia,” he said. “Last year was considered the best Breeders’ Cup ever by the track staff and Breeders’ Cup staff.”

The association hopes to get around the same number of attendees as last year, Siberell said.
Harbicht, who motioned to pass the ordinance, said he would like to see the races come back to the city in the future.

“I think Arcadia should be very pleased Breeders’ Cup is coming here,” Harbicht said. “The race track in general has been a very good partner with the city.”

Though the races will be held in Kentucky next year, Siberell speculates they may return to Arcadia again in four to five years.

At the meeting, the City Council agreed with the city manager’s suggestion to establish a policy at a future meeting that would require full or partial reimbursement to the City for future events, according to city minutes.

By Sameea Kamal

September 10, 2009

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