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My visit to OLE

Since Jai Alai has been shut down at Orlando Jai Alai for a few years now, I haven't been back inside the fronton proper for quite awhile. Since they were hosting Florida Popcon, a comic and cosplay convention this weekend, I decided to go back and check out my old stomping grounds.

Compared to the video of Miami front on where the seating has to be believed to be seen, the building itself is still in pretty good shape. However, almost all traces of Jai Alai were gone. The concession stands that were dismantled have been put back together but the court walls have been painted black - which gives it a real depressing look. The screen remains and there was a large video screen mounted to it. The scoreboard shells and the players cage remains. The 3rd floor racebook is pretty much there with one section curtained off separate from the larger curtained off area. I guess it might be opened up for big events like the derby but otherwise kind of looks like an antique museum. The regular racebook has been squeezed into the old comedy club, which was the even older lounge before. I peeked in and only saw a handful of gamblers. The convention itself had maybe 50 people, which was maybe what Jai Alai was drawing near the end.

The one cool thing was the dealer tables were on the court floor, so you were allowed to walk around on it. After all the years I've gone to Orlando Jai, this was the first time I was on the court itself. You really get a different perspective just how high and long it really is. OLE has pretty much converted to a performance venue like concerts, MMA, boxing and wrestling and will eventually give up the racebook. Jai Alai won't ever come back I'm afraid.


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