The following is the latest update from IHHA President Dave McCaffery. Please read it very carefully because it applies to our situation as well. I’ve said all along, it’s simple math. Good luck to our harness friends.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Every day the IHHA office and I receive scores of emails, texts, and phone calls. The vast majority of them are supportive, some offer suggestions, and some just leave me shaking my head. One such email came in this afternoon and I want to share it with all of you.
Because I want to protect the identity of the sender, I won’t give the name. The email read (in part):
“Why don’t we just sign a two year contract that keeps the purses like they were the last few years?”
I want to use tonight’s update to give some unfortunate facts about the long-term situation of Illinois harness racing. Maybe it’s a failure on my part to educate the membership, maybe it’s a failure on the membership’s part to accept what I’m about to say, or maybe it’s somewhere in between. Regardless, here’s an attempt to convey the sad facts.
Illinois harness racing is in huge trouble! So much, in fact, that our situation is comparable to being given the diagnosis of a terminal illness. Consider Johnny Johnston’s testimony at last week’s IRB meeting when he said of Illinois harness racing, “We’re dealing with end of life issues here.”
The only antidote to our illness is some kind of legislative help from Springfield (slots, impact fee, etc.) And the only good news is that we have $5.5 million in our purse account. If we don’t get the cure, we’re left to decide two things: how long do we want to live? (somewhere between 7 and 22 months) and what do we want our quality of life to be between now and the end (big purse cuts and a longer life or no purse cuts and a shorter life).
Obviously, these are big issues which is why we haven’t yet signed a contract. The racetracks want us to “live” longer and continue to provide them product to sell through cutting purses aggressively and continually by insisting on a two year contract; the IHHA believes we should go out with dignity, by keeping purses at a respectable level for as long as possible albeit shorter than two years.
So, there you have it; if you didn’t know how bad our situation is before, I hope you all get it now. And, finally, I hope that answers my friend’s email question.