Hotel at Batavia Downs expansion under consideration; eight concerts planned for next summer

If it makes financial sense, the Hotel at Batavia Downs on Park Road will be adding 42 rooms in 2024.

Henry Wojtaszek, chief executive officer/president of Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., today said his team has been consulting with Hart Hotels, the company that manages the current 84-room luxury hotel.

“We’re going through the process, conducting engineering studies to see if it will be cost-effective,” Wojtaszek said after this morning WROTB board of directors meeting. “The plan is to report back to the board in January.”

The hotel operated at 70 percent capacity in November, Wojtaszek said.

“Business has picked up,” he said. “Plus, we’re sold out for New Year’s Eve and have a big waiting list.”

Wojtaszek said that Batavia Downs Gaming’s New Year’s Eve party will be exclusively for those staying at the hotel.

In other developments from today’s meeting:

  • The board approved a contract extension with Don Hoover, director of live racing and race secretary, for January and February 2023 at a rate of $12,000 per month.

Hoover’s salary will be paid by the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association per an agreement with WROTB as a condition of conducting 15 live racing dates in January and February.

Racing will take place on Mondays and Thursdays in those two months, starting on Jan. 9, with a 3 p.m. post time.

Directors also extended a pact with Mark Lowe for live racing consulting services from Jan, 1 through March 31 at a rate of $3,500 per month.

Wojtaszek said Lowe is assisting the corporation in navigating through the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s racetrack safety program and anti-doping and medication control program (with the latter going into effect next month).

  • Wojtaszek announced that the 2023 Batavia Downs Summer Concert Series will feature eight concerts on Friday nights, starting on June 23 and ending on Aug. 11. He said the specific acts will be announced next week.

The board approved contracting with Canal Concerts, Inc., of Buffalo, to provide supervision of the series, including the hiring of bartenders, security and other employees.

Canal Concerts has played a role in the productions since 2017, Wojtaszek said. The approved contract will pay the company $5,500 per concert.

  • Former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas will continue as WROTB’s spokesperson for two more years, thanks to a contract that will pay Mariacher Thomas LLC $120,000 through Dec. 31, 2024. The terms of the agreement have not changed, Wojtaszek said.

Thomas has represented Batavia Downs Gaming at events, promotions and advertising campaigns since 2013.

Wojtaszek said that the gaming facility’s 34 Rush will be closed for 10 to 14 days in early January for the installation of a new kitchen hood. The board authorized paying $52,700 to Crosby Brownlie, Inc., of Rochester, the lowest bidder, for the work.

  • The board voted to spend $240,000 over the next 12 months for the services of three lobbying firms.

The one-year contracts are with Upstate Strategic Advisors, LLC, of Buffalo, represented by Sam Hoyt ($3,500 per month); Mercury Public Affairs LLC of Albany, represented by Patrick McCarthy ($8,000 per month), and Bolton-St. Johns of New York City and Albany, represented by George DiRosa ($8,500 per month).

Wojtaszek said the consultants provide expertise in the areas of proposed legislation in Albany, communication with local municipalities and in public relations.

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