Populous Proud To Be Lead Designer of New Belmont Park

March 26, 2024

Global sports and event architecture firm Populous will lead the redesign of Belmont Park — the Nassau County home of the Belmont Stakes — bringing to life the vision of both Belmont and the New York Racing Association. As the first location to host horse racing in the U.S., Belmont Park has a storied history of leadership and innovation in American equestrian culture.  

Inspired by Belmont’s long history of “firsts,” Populous has leveraged its global expertise in horse racing and experiential sports design to ensure that the new Belmont Park will maintain its place among iconic global racetracks. This project represents a new day in American racing, integrating 21st century technology into racetrack operations while retaining the traditions and pageantry of thoroughbred racing.  

The design for the new Belmont Park draws inspiration from the flowing, mutable shape of a ribbon — the traditional symbol of victory — and marks an intentional departure from the current Belmont style. The new design will introduce greater transparency and reduce the scale of the building to be properly sized for changing needs and trends. 

In the structure itself, over 275,000 square feet of elegant, state-of-the-art infrastructure will seat approximately 7,500 guests and feature a variety of club and dining spaces, food and beverage outlets, private suites and indoor/outdoor experiences. There will be additional capacity in the ground-level “Mercado” to support back yard general admissions and temporary overlay facilities that can be used to support additional capacity — up to 50,000 guests — for special events. 

The new building is five levels above ground with an outdoor terrace at the top level, providing sweeping views of the site under the graceful canopy that tops the building. From food and beverage outlets for general admission attendees to a variety of club and dining spaces, event spaces and private suites, the design team was intentional about creating a building that can fulfill a wide range of needs.

Throughout the design process, the varying needs of owners, trainers and jockeys were carefully considered to optimize their overall race day experience and position Belmont Park as the national racing location of choice. Back of house, state-of-the-art technology and infrastructure was implemented to streamline operations for the many people working tirelessly to make each race day possible, whether they work in broadcast, guest services, building engineering or catering services.

One of the key mandates Populous adhered to throughout the design process was that Belmont Park must remain a park, since the expansive green space is a cherished feature for its surrounding community. A key element of the project involves unlocking additional green space by providing access to the racetrack’s infield. Two new tunnels under the track provide this infield access without impacting racing and will allow flexibility of use over time. The utilization of this space will expand outdoor gathering spaces at Belmont by nearly fivefold. Additionally, the reduced building footprint returns space to the back yard, supporting a variety of uses from racing to community festivals like The Park. 

This project isn’t starting anew — it’s building on over 100 years of racing tradition that has given Belmont Park its legacy.

Meg McWilliam, Populous Principal and Project Manager, says:

“Belmont Park has always been an iconic venue where people gather together, and its storied past is rich with trendsetting racing innovation. Working alongside NYRA, Populous is well suited to help deliver their vision for the new Belmont Park, respecting the heritage of the venue while reinventing a world-class experience that is approachable, dynamic and unexpected.”

Marc Holliday, NYRA Chairman Board of Directors Chairman, says:

“The new Belmont Park will be a thoroughly modern racing and entertainment facility that will take its place on the global stage among iconic venues like Ascot, Longchamp and The Curragh. It is an honor to design and develop a venue that will appeal to racing enthusiasts and attract a new generation of fans.”

David O’Rourke, NYRA President and CEO, says:

“The transformation of Belmont Park will secure the future of thoroughbred racing in New York State, create thousands of jobs and drive tourism to Long Island and the region for decades to come. NYRA is committed to building a world-class destination that will set the global standard for a racing facility, and we thank Governor Hochul for the opportunity to completely re-imagine Belmont.


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