By Larry Blustein
This evening (8:00), when hundreds flock to Frankey’s Sports Bar at Gulfstream Park for the National Football League Draft, it will continue to show how this Hallandale Beach facility has raised the entertainment bar.
Besides being one of the best thoroughbred race tracks in the world, attracting some of the biggest names the Sport of Kings has to offer, this is the facility that has certainly found the right combination - making it one of the most popular destinations in south Florida.
Abel Kramer is a 24 year resident of Hallandale Beach. He has watched how the fight to improve the track was a battle that some still talk about today. But while it has taken a long time to start, and has battled the many critics, this type of momentum that the entire facility is currently going through, can only help.
“I remember when this was just a bunch of land with one race track in the distance - and as racing declined - it was one of the most talked about properties,” Kramer explained. “They had flea markets, seasonal racing and a few concerts, but this was too valuable to just sit there for a short racing season and to host the Broward County Youth Fair.”
Sitting there meant that the right developers had to come in. Many even suggested building an arena - or a smaller baseball facility, but residents and city officials quickly jumped in and spoke about the reality - talking about traffic messes. But plans went ahead, and through trial and error, we now have this year-round facility that is coming alive seven nights a week.
While the planning over two decades ago included what was being referred to as “mixed-use”, it is indeed very popular across the country today - where living, dining, shopping and entertaining was right there on one property. That is the objective that Gulfstream is still looking at.
“I remember when Hard Rock was being planned and then built, everyone was screaming that Gulfstream, with all of their plans, should build a hotel to make it more of a resort,” Kramer said. “It was only a natural fit - and being a mile from the beach - things would really work out in their favor.”
With some of the elite restaurants and shops that you will find anywhere in south Florida, Gulfstream is now at the center, and competing for that coveted entertainment dollar with some of the best destinations in Miami, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale - or just about anywhere else that you can do so many things - under just one roof.
“The fact that you can come here and eat, shop and go to the casino is why we come here three times a week,” North Miami resident Carmen Alvarez pointed out. “When they added Frankey’s and the bowling alley - along with the night club - it brought that younger crowd in.”
It has always been a given, especially with the decline in interest when it comes to horse racing, that for this property to be successful, there would have to be more than racing, simulcasting, poker and casino games. Making that “mix-use” as a rallying cry, several businesses have come and gone, but the ones who are there now, are actually seeing a trend of more year-round traffic heading to Hallandale Beach.
WQAM HOSTS DRAFT PARTY TONIGHT
If you are a football fan, you will not want to miss the event this evening that is starting at 6:00 at Frankey’s Sports Bar. Radio personalities and fans will flock this evening as the NFL Draft Party will be live and on the air on 560 WQAM Radio.
Alex Donno and the Big O will be on the air as the fans count down to the Miami Dolphins’ first pick.
For more information on the many restaurants, shops and other things going on, check out the website at: http://www.gulfstreampark.com