To celebrate the quality of its simulcasts and the new season of live racing, which begins May 4, 2012, Illinois’ Arlington Park racetrack has started migrating programming in their OTB parlors towards high definition. Arlington Park, a renowned Midwest presence and leader in thoroughbred racing, has started moving its analog sports feeds to HD in many of its Off Track Betting (OTB) facilities with the help of NSC
Communications and Contemporary Research. John Mahoney, Arlington Park’s AV and simulcast specialist, has placed six Contemporary Research QMOD-HDs in OTB parlors in Chicago, Lockport, Arlington, South Beloit, and South Elgin, Illinois. Arlington Park staff say that the QMOD-HD’s combination of HD encoder and QAM modulator is helping the OTB parlors deliver HD sports content including Chicago Blackhawks and Bears games to their patrons, while they enjoy betting on horses at their favorite racing venues.
Honoring Roots with an Eye to the Future
Colloquially known as “the most beautiful track in America,” Arlington Park, located in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, began thoroughbred racing in 1927. Infamous jockey Joe Bollero
guided Luxembourg to victory in the first ever race at the track. Arlington Park survived the Great Depression, World War II, and was a pivotal presence during the “Golden Era of Racing.” In 1981, Arlington
hosted world’s first million dollar purse: The Arlington Million. Surviving a devastating fire in 1958, Arlington renovated and reopened soon after with a new name and a new concept. It dedicated itself not only to quality racing but also to the concept of family entertainment. Technology played a pivotal role in that agenda.
Since the 1980s, Arlington Park has invested heavily in the future of racing. Merging with Churchill Downs Incorporated in 2000, Arlington Park became the first Midwest track to install a synthetic racing surface. A Polytrack surface was unveiled for the 2007 race meeting.
Audiovisual technology is another expression of their forward thinking philosophy and commitment to community. In 2008, Arlington Park 2008 became one of the first tracks in the country to allow guests to purchase and print Arlington tickets online.
After six months of planning, all 11 Illinois Trackside locations, as well as Mr. D.’s Sports Bar in the Arlington Park grandstand, unveiled new wagering terminals which provide customers the latest in wagering technology from United Tote. The successful conversion took place in January.
Its numerous OTB locations combine convenient wagering with fine eating and drinking. The Villa Park venue is housed in a single-story building of approximately 12,000 square feet consisting of a Tavern on North restaurant with a separate sports bar/off-track wagering area that feature some 45 stateof- the-art television monitors and 12 wagering terminals. The restaurant specializes in Italian-American cuisine and is open daily for lunch and dinner. It offers a convenient carryout service, in addition to banquet spaces. Located next to Trackside OTB, the restaurant features atmospheric outdoor seating equipped with a fireplace. The wagering facility the features 140 high-definition viewing monitors including a 100-inch projector unit.
The Contemporary Research QMOD-HD has been vital for Arlington Park, Mahoney says, as they compete in the ever-changing world of sports entertainment. Racing fans not only want to be able to bet on live and
simulcast racing, but also want to be able to keep up with their favorite sports teams while doing so. The QMOD–HD allows them to do just that, and delivers programming versatility in HD.
While Arlington’s simulcast races are still delivered in standard definition they plan for racing to be upgraded to HD in the near future. When that happens, the QMOD-HD will be a big part of the transition, the company says.