After a year and a half and $88 million dollars, the new grandstand at the Meadowlands Racetrack — in the same complex as the home of Superbowl XLVIII — opened in November.
The new grandstand replaces the famous harness racetrack from the 1970s. It’s one-third the size of the old one — a logical move since so much betting takes place off-site these days.
“It feels completely different than the old building,” racetrack chairman Jeff Gural told Business Insider. “The old building was a depressing place. There were large parts that were closed and empty. Now it’s crowded and fun. It has an up feeling.”
Even with lingering mounds of snow on a recent Friday evening, plenty made the trek to East Rutherford for dinner and drinks, if not to bet on one of the 13 races.
There are still VIP betting rooms and an old-school owners’ club done up in dark wood and leather. But for the young professional looking to get out on a Friday night, there’s also a rooftop terrace with stunning views of Manhattan, a sports bar with double-height ceilings and cinema-sized televisions, and a two-tiered prix-fixe dining room that looks straight at the finish line.
Admission to the grandstand is free, and dinner and drinks can be had for $40 or less. The minimum bet on-site is just $2.
“When I tell people I own the Meadowlands, the most common thing I hear is, ‘Oh, I used to go there all the time with my father or my girlfriend,'” Gural said. “Twenty or 30 years ago, the Meadowlands was the place to be on a Saturday night. I’d like it to be that place again.”
Business Insider got a behind-the-scenes tour of the new Meadowlands facility before the start of a recent race.