Industry Reports

Edmonton City Council Extends Northlands’ Horse Racing License until January 2019

The license of Northlands and Horse Racing Alberta to offer horse racing in the city of Edmonton has been extended until the end of January 2019, which is six months longer than initially expected.

Earlier this week, the City Council agreed to permit Northlands to host horse races at its track in Edmonton until the beginning of 2019. Under the previous agreement, its license had to be ended on June 30th, 2018.

The new deal between Edmonton’s City Council and the operator was reached at a time when there has already been a delay in the construction of the Century Mile Racetrack and Casino. The project, which is estimated at approximately CA$50 million, is set to be located in close proximity to Edmonton International Airport and is expected to turn into the main horse-racing venue in the city.

A few months ago, in May, Northlands and Horse Racing Alberta revealed that it had reached an agreement with Horse Racing Alberta, under which their horse racing license would be extended to January 2019, so that horse racing would have remained available until the opening of the new track in the spring of 2019.

As revealed by CBC News, the Edmonton City Council member Tony Caterina commented on the Council decision, saying that was the second time when the city has been asked for an extension of the Northlands’ license. He explained that the additional 6-month extension was not anticipated at first. He further shared that he was not familiar with the reasons for the delay of the project’s construction.

A Number of Other Options Considered by Century Casinos

For the time being, it is Century Casinos Inc. that runs the Century Mile project.

Speaking of the Century Mile project’s delay, the Horse Racing Alberta’s spokesperson Jeff Robillard revealed that the other options had been considered by the company, including moving the races to tracks in Grande Prairie or Lethbridge. Mr. Robillard explained that the organization preferred to keep the races in Edmonton.

He further shared that the Northlands track is set to start running the standard-bred horse events in the fall of 2018, after the Canadian Derby, which is to take place in August, is brought to an end. The control of the racetrack is expected to be officially handed over to the city on March 31st, 2019. Under the original agreement, the land had to be surrendered by December 2018.

According to media reports, a few days ago, the City councilors of Edmonton were asked to consider a proposed amendment to the staged surrender and lease agreement with Northlands. As mentioned above, after the Council’s vote, the land will be handed over as part of a redevelopment plan for the area around the Northlands Coliseum at the end of March next year. The Coliseum was closed in 2017, as the 2016 opening of the new Rogers Place arena made the old facility no longer needed.