DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) — Del Mar's 2020 racing season kicked off Friday in a way never seen before - without fans.
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is hosting the season without people in the stands to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
The decision's impact will go beyond the Thoroughbred Club, which stands to lose $17 million this year in ticket sales and concessions.
"It's more than just a money making venture for us, because probably this year, we won't make any money," club CEO Joe Harper said.
The club reports that it makes a $300 million economic impact to the region in a typical year. That includes 5,150 jobs and a boost to the area hotel occupancy rate from 70 percent to 87 percent.
Additionally, area business, including restaurants in Del Mar and neighboring Solana Beach, are losing out on fans pre and post race. Last year, the track averaged 11,264 fans per day.
"You kind of don't have a choice, you kind of just got to be proactive and be creative and make it work," said Charles Koll, owner of Viewpoint Brewing Company, across from the fairgrounds.
Koll said he would rely on community support, and reach out to jockeys at the fairgrounds, to increase his customer base during this time.
The racing season extends through early September, with meets each Friday through Sunday, concluding on Labor Day.