Meetings of the executive committee, communications and marketing committee, and pari-mutuel fairs subcommittees were held on the opening day of the USTA board of directors annual meeting Saturday (March 10) at the Hilton-Easton.
In the communications and marketing committee, District 4 Director Gabe Wand and District 2 Director Marilyn Breuer-Bertera proposed the creation of a USTA youth delegate program. The program, which would have one delegate between the ages of 16 and 20 from each USTA district, would bring a youth perspective to decision-making, as well as provide marketing and social media opportunities for the sport. Delegates would benefit from possible academic credit, opportunities for published work, and leadership training.
"We want to make sure that we include them in the decision-making process and capture their enthusiasm," said Wand.
The committee recommended to the full board that the USTA go forward with the program. If approved, it would be part of the 2019 annual budget.
Also in the communications and marketing committee, USTA President Russell Williams presented a concept for creating a USTA Advanced Marketing arm that would provide marketing consulting services for individual racing jurisdictions. The USTA Owner Committee has recently submitted a marketing proposal to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture on behalf of the Standardbred Breeders Association of Pennsylvania to encourage breeding in Pennsylvania.
Williams said that if this proposal and ensuing execution is successful, that the USTA could and should vie for these available harness racing marketing dollars in other jurisdictions, possibly as an offshoot of the USTA.
"Can the USTA compete for state marketing money and be revenue-positive, all without overburdening staff?" said Williams. "I think the answer is yes."
In the pari-mutuel subcommittee, board members discussed the recent USTA track dues increase, which was based in part on total purses paid by each permit holder. Subcommittee Chairman Mark Loewe of District 1 proposed that the dues be based on a hybrid approach that would also consider total handle at each track.
The efficacy of the TrackMaster automated morning line, which is used by the majority of the tracks represented by the board members, was also discussed. Some directors said that the automated lines were sometimes skewed, particularly when a horse was coming from a county fair to a pari-mutuel track.
David Siegel, president of TrackMaster and a new District 3 director, addressed the subcommittee, saying that when the automated morning lines were tested against morning lines created by local linemakers, only Cal Expo and Meadowlands had more accurate morning lines.
The Board of Directors General Session kicks off the Sunday (March 11) agenda starting at 8 a.m.
Following is the agenda for General Session:
1. Call to Order
2. Pledge of Allegiance
3. Roll Call
4. Introduction of New Directors
5. President’s Report
6. Executive Vice President’s Report
7. Financial Report
8. Keynote Speaker
10. Group Picture
Following the general session, Director’s Service Awards and President’s Awards will be presented at the Recognition Luncheon slated for 11:45 a.m.
Later in the day, the Racing Committee meets at 1 p.m. and the Registration–Owners/Breeders Committee at 3:30 p.m.
On Monday (March 12), the agenda commences with the Rules Committee at 8 a.m. followed by the Finance Committee at 9 a.m.
The 2018 meetings conclude with the second Board of Directors General Session starting at 11:30 a.m. where committee reports will be made, the 2018 budget will be approved and USTA President Russell Williams will make closing remarks and announce the site of the 2019 meeting.
For daily updates, please visit the USTA website at www.ustrotting.com. (USTA)