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Western Fair Discussions Continue

Published: December 21, 2017 4:05 pm ET

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The CBC has published an article in regard to the ongoing negotiations at The Western Fair District. Although the process is challenging, Western Fair District CEO Hugh Mitchell has said that he is hopeful and optimistic that a deal which is beneficial to all parties will be reached.

The situation is complex due to the fact that there are agreements between four entities: the city of London – which is the co-owner of most of the fairgrounds – the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., the Western Fair District and gaming operator Gateway Casinos & Entertainment.

Mitchell has conveyed to the CBC that the negotiations are critical to all of the parties involved, but that he believes a mutually beneficial solution can be arrived at for each entity to thrive at the fairgrounds.

"We need to reach an understanding on a long-term business arrangement where each party has a win," he said. "I'd like to see [Gateway] stay here and expand and grow their gaming. And develop accommodations and see our racing flourish. I'd like to see the complex become a state-of-the-art facility."

This past May, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment signed a 20-year Casino Operating and Services Agreement with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. and purchased the business and assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle. Gateway took over day-to-day operations and the assets of the Southwest Gaming Bundle on May 9.

In early November, a Gateway spokesman went on the record as saying that the Western Fair District and the City of London must lower its leasing cost or sell Gateway some of the fair property if a casino expansion and its accompanying amenities, which could include a hotel, are to come to the site. The spokesman also said that “there are other options in the city of London that we are looking at.”

Earlier this month, Gateway unveiled its proposal for expansion and redevelopment of some of the Western Fair District’s lands and facilities. The proposal trotted out the idea that the Progress Building – and eventually the racetrack’s grandstand – could be demolished to accommodate necessary parking for a planned casino and hotel complex.

“It's in our (the Western Fair District’s) interest to find a mutually agreeable solution, no question,” Mitchell has told the CBC. “They (Gateway) could move, but I'm hopeful and optimistic it won't get there."

(With files from the CBC)

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