Landowners put the squeeze on Kasamatsu Racecourse

Booming ticket sales at the Kasamatsu Racecourse, one of the fifteen horse tracks of the National Association of Racing has witnessed spiraling costs for renting the land where it sits.

About 260 people own most of the land upon which the Kasamatsu Racecourse, built in 1935, now sits. As the result of an earlier lawsuit, the amount of the rent payment has been linked to ticket sales.

At that time, ticket sales were sluggish, but in 2012 a new system was launched whereby tickets for National Association of Racing tracks could be purchased on the internet using the wealthier Japan Racing Association’s network.

This led to a vibrant increase in ticket sales at Kasamatsu Racecourse, going from JPY10.6 billion (US$96 million) in FY12 to JPY20.3 billion (US$183 million) last year.

However, due to the rent formula that was agreed upon, this unexpected boom in ticket sales led to an even sharper rise in rent payments, from JPY63 million (US$568,000) in 2011 to JPY430 million (US$3.9 million) last year.

The Kasamatsu Racecourse management (affiliated with the local government) is now seeking to renegotiate its rent agreement with the landowners, arguing that the situation is getting out of control. The spiraling rent payments are putting a squeeze on any potential profitability from the ticket sales, and the now-decrepit racecourse has little money available for much-needed reinvestment.