Century Casinos has been chosen by Horse Racing Alberta (HRA) to build, own and operate a new horse-racing track in the Edmonton area.
Century Casinos plans to build a new track and casino south of the city on Edmonton International Airport land, west of the RedTail Landing golf course.
“It’s basically going to be modelled after our Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Calgary,” Paul Ryneveld with Century Casinos said, adding the Edmonton facility would be about 50 per cent larger than Calgary’s.
Ryneveld said the plan is to build a mile-long track with stabling for up to 800 horses. The facility will be two, possibly three, floors. Century Casinos hopes to break ground either later this year or early 2017, with plans to open in late 2018.
“It’s exciting,” Ryneveld said. “It’s obviously great for Century but it’s also, I believe, great for the horse-racing industry in Alberta.
“Having both Edmonton and Calgary under one operator, we’ll be able to advance the industry in Alberta.”
Horse Racing Alberta said it’s excited to have a new track coming to the Edmonton community.
“Century Casinos have proven experience in both gaming and horse racing and will bring that experience, strength and success to the Edmonton area Race Track Facility project,” Horse Racing Alberta said in a media release Monday.
At city hall on Tuesday, Mayor Don Iveson expressed enthusiasm over the development and suggested the location could be advantageous.
“I think it could be a great regional amenity,” Iveson said. “I think building it near the airport is interesting. I think it creates some additional destination opportunities and tourism opportunities for the airport and the region, so I’m glad those jobs are going to stay in the region and that the industry is going to have a shot at vitality by repositioning itself with some new infrastructure and new partners.”
The mayor added he was hopeful there would be an opportunity for Northlands to continue hosting horse racing activity until the new track’s expected opening date in 2018.
“If there’s an interim opportunity to sustain those jobs and that activity at Northlands during construction of the new site, the city would be very open to working with Northlands and HRA to facilitate that,” Iveson said. “In the interests of maintaining employment security for the folks who work in that space (Northlands) first and foremost, and then also if there’s some revenue opportunities that help Northlands pay their bills in the meantime and give us time to plan for re-purposing of those lands then I think there’s a win-win to be had.”
Century Casinos Europe GmbH is an international company that operates casinos around the globe, including four in Alberta. The company also operates Calgary’s race track.
Century Casinos was one of four organizations asked by Horse Racing Alberta to submit proposals to build, own and operate an “A” Race Track Licence in the Edmonton area after six organizations voiced interest.
An external review committee was in charge of analyzing the applications and recommending an organization to the Horse Racing Alberta Board of Directors.
A request for comment from Northlands was not immediately returned.
-With files from Phil Heidenreich.