Biggest season ever to bolster Chester economy

Reporter:

Laura Jones

THE region is set for a £20 million boost as bosses at Chester Racecourse predict another bumper year.

More than 300,000 people are expected to flock to the city this summer for the biggest race calendar Chester Racecourse has ever seen.

Fourteen race days with an average of 20,000 racegoers per meeting could culminate in a £20m windfall for the city’s economy, according to organisers.

The race season kicks off today with the Totesport Cup Day, followed by the glamorous Boodles Ladies Day tomorrow and Boodles City Day on Friday.

Chester city centre manager Stephen Wundke said the boost would help hotels, restaurants and bars throughout Chester.

Bosses at the Roodee will employ about 850 new temporary staff to cope with the influx of visitors – adding a further £1m to employees’ pockets during the summer months.

Following months of preparation, racecourse staff have been hard at work this week making their final preparations before the floodgates open.

An extra 30,000 square feet of marquee has been brought in to provide hospitality for the throng of visitors who make their way annually to Chester from across the UK and Ireland.

During the next three days kitchen staff will be gearing up to supply more than 11,000 hospitality meals – including 40 tonnes of haddock, 3,000 crabs and 20,000 rounds of sandwiches.

Catering manager Phil Dougherty said: “Last year was our first year of delivering our catering operation in house and our team performed extremely well and while our surveys showed that we were delivering on all of our promises to our customers, the challenge now is to see how we can do it better, how we can involve even more local suppliers and how we can become an even ‘greener’ major event venue.”

During the May Festival, organisers predict that more than 10,000 pints of lager will be drunk, as well as 12,000 gallons of tea and coffee, accompanied by 45,000 cakes for afternoon tea.

Hoards of race day revellers will drink 12,000 bottles of champagne and more than 20,000 glasses of Pimm’s this May.

Mr Wundke added that Chester Racecourse had recorded a rise in profits last year of almost 10 per cent.

It is expected that with an added meeting on Saturday, June 11, this figure will be boosted even further. Richard Thomas, chief executive of Chester Racecourse, said: “Chester Racecourse is unique – the only city centre racecourse in the country and simply the most wonderful atmosphere.

“We understand it is a great entertainment venue and next week sees some of the finest horse racing staged anywhere in the UK, right here in the heart of our city.

“We have worked hard over the winter to improve the offer even further for this year’s festival.

“Chester deserves that sort of event and Chester Races delivers that feeling.”

For information and tickets, visit www.chester-races.com

See full story in the Leader

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