Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.71
Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie 1000 Lone Star Pkwy Grand Prairie, TX 75050
Year Opened: 1997
North Texas Turf
Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie is one of only 4 tracks in the state of Texas that offer live horse racing and is considered by many to be the best of the bunch. Opened in 1997, Lone Star Park hosts thoroughbred racing from April thru July, and Quarter Horse racing from September thru November. The facility has a mile-long dirt track in addition to a seven-furlong turf course, which sits inside the larger dirt oval; on a typical race day might see both courses in use.
Food & Beverage 5
There is all manner of food and beverage options at Lone Star Park, starting with hot dogs, ice cream, pizza, and Mexican on the lower level, as well as several bar areas with full selections of alcohol. Prices vary widely, with main dish items such as hot dogs and slices of cheese pizza starting at $6, and you can also get snacks or desserts like packaged candy and cookies starting at $2.
There are also better options, including full-service restaurants, on the second and third floors if you want to purchase premium seating. Most of the food is located inside the main building, but there are a couple of kiosks outside with very small selections of alcohol, plus bottled water and popcorn.
The facilities at Lone Star Park are stellar – there are inflatables for the kids, multiple seating areas inside and out so you can get as close to or as far from the action as you want, and there is even a live band playing during the races. But like any horse racing course, certainly, the name of the game is the wagering, and you will find plenty of betting windows (staffed with live attendants to take your bets) and betting machines inside the venue (as well as a couple of ATMs – please bet responsibly).
I prefer the live staff option, as I am not always certain what some of the betting terms mean. The wagering lines can get a little long at times, especially just before the off, so you are better off going right after the end of each race.
There is a walking ring on the other side of the facility from the track, where you can see the horses parade around before they go onto the track, and you can also see the winning relations (and horse) in the winner’s circle following the race. The seating areas include partially covered seats with chairbacks, or you can sit at tables in the sun closer to the track if you need space to set your food or drink, or to peruse your racing program.
There is also a large area of covered seating about 200 feet away from the main building, which has additional tables and chairs – this is near where the stage is for the live band, just outside the west entrance of the main building.
Lone Star Park is located about halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, nestled in between Arlington and Irving. There is some construction going on in the immediate vicinity to create a major league cricket stadium on the site, and there is also an entertainment venue already on site called Texas Trust CU Theater which hosts concerts and other events.
Additional development is also planned on the property, so in a couple of years, you can expect to see a variety of new restaurants, shopping options, and hotels, making this a bit similar to the Texas Live! entertainment district (currently being built but partially completed) next to Globe Life Field in Arlington.
If you are looking for additional entertainment options, there is plenty to be seen in Dallas proper or in Fort Worth. For example, you may be able to catch other sporting events on the same weekend if you want to make a doubleheader of it – baseball season is in full swing, and the NBA or NHL may have some games nearby if the Mavericks or Stars make the playoffs. You are also in the right season for spring football, with both the Arlington Renegades of the XFL and the arena football Frisco Fighters having games nearby if you choose the right weekend.
There are plenty of “fans” in attendance, making wagers and taking a look at the horses – you will hear plenty of cheers (as well as a few screams of agony) urging on the right horse (or bemoaning the loss of a favorite). People here really seem to be enjoying themselves as they walk around taking in the sights, listening to the band, or enjoying a drink or some good food – you will see plenty of smiles on people’s faces as they enjoy the beautiful day at the track. The folks here are also very friendly, and are very willing to share tips or stories of success and failure; you will also see many groups of friends and families out and about, enjoying their time.
Getting to Lone Star Park is pretty easy – there is not much around the venue at present, so traffic in and out of the site is almost non-existent, and you can park for free in the “outer” parking lot. Parking in the lot closest to the facility will run you $20, but in my opinion, that option is not worth it; the further parking lot is empty enough that you can park near the front, and with only a few extra steps of walking save some money.
Once inside there are plenty of bathrooms, and in general, there is plenty of room to move around the concourse and the track. Most of the concessions don’t have any lines to speak of, given how many different options there are – the only downside is you might have to wait in line at one of the betting windows or betting machines or for the ATM.
A pro tip here – there is a much less used ATM on the far side (away from the West entrance where most people enter from the parking lot), so if you go over there you shouldn’t have to wait, although the betting windows and betting machines on that side seem to be about the same.
Return on Investment 5
The cost to get into Lone Star Park is only $15 for basic admission, plus $5 for a racing program if you want to see the odds and scratches. The price for the 2nd and 3rd levels runs a little bit more, and on some days they will sell out of those better seating options – on the plus side if you sit on the upper floors you can watch from the inside and get a better view of the race since you are higher up, but you can’t get as close to the horses that way.
I already mentioned the live band and the number of different seating options, but the grounds are also beautiful. Being able to see both turf racing and dirt racing on the same track is also a plus (note that the turf racing here is slightly harder to see than the dirt racing, given the turf course is inside the dirt track).
There is also a little gift shop inside if you want to grab a souvenir, and there are some statues around which you can get pictures of; you can also pet some of the horses (not the racehorses but the horses ridden by the park staff). And finally, I have to mention the hat contest – you will see plenty of people dressed up in their finery to go racing, including many, many elaborate and beautiful hats being worn.
I would recommend a visit to Lone Star Park if you can make it; this is the best race course I have ever been to and the best racing experience I have ever had.