In the racetrack's glory days, the Coliseum housed a cinema-sized screen and betting windows to handle the overflow of fans. In the mid-1980s, Ak-Sar-Ben was tenth in the nation in racetrack attendance, with up to 25,000 betting $2 million per day on weekends. Many festivals were also held in the Coliseum annually, including a Greek Festival and River City Roundup booths.
Following his death in 1959, the 1935 Triple Crown winner Omaha was buried at the racetrack's Circle of Champions. The thoroughbred spent his final nine years at a farm outside of Nebraska City and made promotional appearances at the Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack during the 1950s.
Horse racing at Ak-Sar-Ben ended in August 1995, just ten years after its record season of 1985. Dog racing began in Nebraska in 1986 and other forms of gambling followed, and attendance rapidly declined at Ak-Sar-Ben. A portion of the property was the sold to First Data Resources under the agreement that FDR would donate part of land for the University of Nebraska at Omaha for its Aksarben Campus to build a UNO's new College of Information and Technology.
After the remaining buildings and grandstand were torn down in early 2005, a proposal is underway to create a mixed-use development called Aksarben Village.
Following the closure of the racetrack, a simulcast facility, Horsemen's Park, was opened in Omaha in 1998. The once-thriving horse racing industry in Nebraska is now confined to live racing dates rotating from Fonner Park in Grand Island, to State Fair Park in Lincoln, and finishing at Agricultural Park in Columbus.
Sale of famed Omaha horse racetrack spells early retirement for bonds.(Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack; Douglas County, Nebraska)
Jan 03, 1997; Douglas County, Neb., will sell Omaha's famed Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack to a pri- vate firm, and prematurely eradicate the debt....