Circus Vargas will bring its popular show to the weekend of Thanksgiving. The on Tuesday granted a conditional use permit to the Circus, which features ariel acrobatic performers, music and lights.
This marks the first time the racetrack has applied the new standards recently approved by the City Council to allow some on the property, City Manager Don Penman said.
Santa Anita's Special Projects Director Pete Siberell says he doesn't expect Circus Vargas to rake in a lot of revenue for the track, but the show could attract other, larger performances.
"Now that we have the permission from the city to have some different types of events, we'll be a little more aggressive (in booking entertainment) and see what make sense, not only for us, but for the city," he said.
A drop in attendance at the races prompted Santa Anita officials to seek ways to expand usage of the track's vast facilities. In September, the City Council relaxed a municipal code requiring a permit for any type of activity at the track other than racing. Now, a permit is only necessary for events lasting more than five days or that are expected to attract more than 5,000 people.
The California Philharmonic will host its 2012 summer concert series at Santa Anita instead of the , and the track holds several times a year. Officials also say they hope to bring shows such as Cirque de Soleil and its equestrian equivalent, Cavalia, to the park. Siberell says he is even looking into hosting a Christmas tree lot at Santa Anita this upcoming holiday season.
Also, the track is a popular filming location, and will be the backdrop of a new HBO pilot series, "Luck" set to premiere in December. The series stars Dustin Hoffman as a career criminal heavily involved in gambling within the racing world.
"A lot of what we're doing is hoping to increase our bottom line and help the city with tax revenue," Siberell said, adding that he intends to hold only "tasteful" events that the community at large will enjoy and benefit from.
Circus Vargas Locations Director Mark Landon said the circus tried years ago to host a show at Santa Anita, but plans fell through for reasons he can't remember. Landon coincidentally reached out to Santa Anita officials about a week after the City Council modified its events code.
"There's a few things we like about Arcadia," Landon said."The kind of demographics that are in Arcadia and surrounding cities match our target demographics of people that would most likely go to our show."
Also, people "all know Santa Anita. They know exactly where it is. It's a destination point."
Landon says he has no doubt things will go well with Circus Vargas' first Santa Anita show.
In fact, "We hope to come back," he said.
The show runs from Nov. 24 through Dec. 5. To purchase tickets or for more information, click here.