Fonner Park racing will be open to public with safety precautions

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 8:37 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Horse racing will be back up and running at Fonner Park in February, but in order for people to observe the races, officials are changing things up in order to comply with state and local ordinances.

People who come to the races this year must have their own face masks and wear them at all times unless being seated at a table, eating or drinking. Fonner Park is also lowering the occupancy rate to 75% during races. This means season ticket holders at 130 tables will be moved around in order to maintain social distancing. They notified each member with a letter on Wednesday.

“We are restricting some tables and keeping others open, and if you are notified your table is restricted, your letter will give you instructions on what to do,” Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak said. “We’ll basically find you a table very nearby where you have been accustomed to sit.”

People who refuse to follow guidelines will be asked to leave, but park officials hope it never comes to that.

“I hope they will be open-minded because last year you couldn’t come to the races at all,” Kotulak said. “This year 75% of the people will be able and we hope that they will be a team player, and just be able to adapt to a little bit of moving.”

Governor Ricketts only requires places like Fonner Park to limit capacity and not the other precautions, but they wanted to listen to local health and city officials in addition to the state to ensure the safety of their patrons and the community at-large.

“If all we have to do is be aware of social distancing and wear a mask in, and adjust our seating a little bit, good Lord that’s the least we can do,” Kotulak said. “We’ve been into the pandemic now for close to a year, it’s certainly around ten months and anybody who hasn’t adapted to the culture of mask wearing, then we don’t want you here at Fonner Park.”

Park officials are excited for another season, but admits some promotions will be cancelled in order to maintain the 75% occupancy rule. They won’t be having their annual camel and ostrich races this year, but they will continue their happy hours and other specials.

People can keep up with safety rules, upcoming racing dates and specials on their website.

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