Many locals and vacationers alike are curious about Jai Alai Florida. This state has hosted the sport since the 50’s. This game is in which a ball is bounced off a walled space which accelerates it to high speeds with a wicker Cesta held in hand. It is very similar to Basque pelota.
Jai Alai is played in a three-walled court. On the otherhand, Basque pelota is played in two walled courts . Meaning ‘merry festival’ Jai Alai comes from the Basque region of Spain. Popular in Cuba, Jai Alai is also played in many Latin American countries.
There are three walls in the court; two are at the front, back, and left, and on the floor between them. The important note for this sport is that it was one of the gambling sports in Europe alongside horse racing. Known as the worlds fastest game.
Americans used to go to courts, or fronton, not only to watch the game but to bet on it. That was the golden era of Jal Alai, however, times have changed. The last professional Jai Alai fronton runs at Magic City. Let’s examine a bit of the history of the sport, and look at what will be its future in the US.
What is Jai Alai? History of Jai Alai
In the 1950’s Jai Alai boomed in Florida. And it showed a significant renovation in Miami in the mid-1960s. Before the 1980s, it became difficult for any other sport to retain an audience, while Jai Alai attracted thousands of spectators. At the end of the 19th century, when Basque migrated to California and Idaho to work as shepherds, Jai Alai was the most popular sport in Havana. In the 1980s, there were about 14 frontons in the various parts of the U.S., including Florida, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Las Vegas.
Those were the days when total bets could exceed $1 million USD, at the courts in one day. Spectators also came in the significant amount of 5000 to 6000. In recent years this amount reduced to only couple of dozen people. The arrival of the ‘big 4’ professional sports like football, baseball, hockey, and basketball has decreased this sport’s popularity.
The biggest blow to the Jai Alai was the facility’s closure, which affected most Hispanic players. If we talk about recent times, most young players are thinking of moving to other sport for a brighter future as the Jai Alai is not as popular now.
Where can I watch Jai Alai?
Sadly, if you want to watch or attend Jai Alai in Florida, there is only one active frontons still open. There are many who are hopeful of a rebirth, but without some structural changes in the marketing of the sport, it does not seem likely. Here are a few of the casinos where historically Jai Alai was played.
Florida Jai Alai
Florida was the first place that hosted Jai Alai at Dania Beach for the past 69 years, but after 2020 they did not host Jai Alai anymore. The casino at Dania Beach shut the sport down in November 2020. It was heartbreak for this sport because Florida was where Jai Alai was initially at its peak. But time changed everything for this sport and the casino over there.
Suppose we talk about Miami, Florida, a Jal Alai casino named Casino Miami. It was one of the few places left that still held pro games. The players out there were very skillful and professionals. It had a capacity of 6500 indoor arenas.
Casino Miami is located at 3500 NW 37th Avenue in Miami, and is still an active casino. This place provides equal food and customer service. There is also a facility for free parking. Casino Miami is famous for gambling, amusement, restaurant, and nightlife containing 1,000 Las Vegas-style machines, electronic table games, and live shows.
It feels like it is newly renovated. Everything seems to like neat and clean. Casino Miami also has good live music performances.
Most importantly, the environment at the casino is friendly, and they are very generous sometimes; they allow you to play with even $50. Cubans’ restaurants near it are also very classic.
Jai Alai Orlando Seminole Fronton
Located at 6405 South U.S. Highway, 17/92 Casselberry, Florida. Of Florida’s five frontons, this one was established in 1962. It has hosted many tournaments. Barronio, Gallardo, Aperri, Olive, Kompa, Larry, Victor, Azpiri, Don, and Gino were among the many pro players here.
Currently, OLE, or Orlando Live Events, is going through some exciting planning. As noted here, there are plans for a ‘high-end development with poker rooms and gambling.’
Lastly, the new developer is also talking about 777 apartments. Interestingly, or funny, however you look at it, Lucky 7’s will be the number of apartments. However, as they work to get voter approval, they are trying to downplay the wagering aspect.
Magic City Casino
Magic City Casino is located at 450 NW 37th Ave, Miami, FL 33125, United States. In 2018 Magic City took a step to promote Jai Alai by combining State of the art Jai Alai with University of Miami athletes. They had also inaugurated a Youtube channel to stream the live Jai Alai.
Magic City players have been active in the community sharing why they are so passionate about the game for the better future of the game. Magic City is was know for pro players like Lander Aramendi, Chad Barnes, Les Bradley, Chris Bueno, and Dennis Dalton.
Spectators have a unique view in this fronton. The glass walls on the front and back provided a view like no other. Its fronton length is 120 feet long and 40 feet in width.
Kings Court Key
Situated at 355 E Palm Dr, Florida City, FL 33034, United States. This facility is no longer open.
North Miami Amateur
It is located at 1935 N.E. 150th St, Miami, FL 33181, United States. The last known Jai Alai played here was North Miami Amateur Jai Alai. However, no website or active phone number can be found. Google reviews for this location are over a year old.
Texas Jai Alai
After Florida, Texas was the second State to host the Jai Alai in the United States. It had a capacity of 12,000 spectators. Established in 2009, it was located in the north of the city of Dallas in the Plano area. There are many restaurants, cafeterias, and daycare centers.
Its Jai Alai court complied with classy frontons of Cesta Punta. The total number of players at Texas Jai Alai was approximately 45.
Ocala Jai Alai
It was located in Orange Lake in the northern part of Florida. It is located at 4601 NW Highway 318 Orange Lake. Known now as, Ocala Gainesville Poker Room. They have poker tables, tournaments and simulcast racing.
Hamilton Downs Jai Alai
It was located at 6968 US Highway 129 South Jasper, Florida. Many services such as restaurants, sports bars, grills, and a bar, were available. Alongside Jai Alai, there was a lot of poker tables. However, this location is no longer open.
Fort Pierce Jai Alai
Previously, located at 1750 South Kings Highway Fort Pierce, Florida. Casino Fort Pierce is closed temporarly, with plans of moving to a new upgraded facility. It could, in it’s heyday, accommodate 3,000 spectators. In a typical season, the total number of players ranges from 28-32.
Things to do indoors in Miami. With the demise of this indoor sport, here are few suggestions of things to do when it rains in Miami.