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No Northlands Racing Beyond 2016

Published: February 17, 2016 2:55 pm ET

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On Wednesday, February 17, officials with Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta announced a proposal that will see the raceway redeveloped into a multi-purpose public park that will have the ability to host tens of thousands of people for large-scale festivals and outdoor concerts.

During a press conference on Wednesday, February 17, Northlands President & CEO Tim Reid said that “it is with mixed emotions today that we talk about our partnership with horse racing. What we do know, in co-ordination with horse racing, is (that) 2016 will be our (Northlands’) last year in the horse racing business.”

During the press conference, Reid was asked whether there is a possibility that Northlands could potentially continue to host live racing in the future. The answer he gave was different to what he had initially stated.

“None of these pictures (that were displayed in the presentation) are final,” Reid said. “They’re just images and they’re thoughts and they’re conversation starters.

“We have been clear with the horse racing industry that we think we need to progress beyond horse racing to activate that 52-acre site. That being said, if the discussions between the province and the HRA (Horse Racing Alberta) came back and the business model changed dramatically, we’d be very thankful we had pictures and not final decisions.

“And, so, we’re willing to work with the industry, and we have all along, and we are very interested in what the outcome of that conversation will look like, but our sense on it right now is (that) we need to build on a future sustainability of Northlands, and not hedge our decision on what happens between the province and HRA.”

Northlands unveiled its highly anticipated ‘Vision 2020’ proposal during the press conference, which outlines a revamped vision for the area.

Some of the key aspects of the ‘Vision 2020’ proposal are listed below.

  • Renovation of Rexall Place into the Northlands Ice Coliseum, an athletic complex with seven sheets of ice across two levels, with the ability to be converted to host other indoor sports such as volleyball, lacrosse, curling and indoor soccer.

  • The conversion of the current Northlands Park Racetrack & Casino into an Urban Festival Site – a multi-use public park with the ability to host large-scale festivals and outdoor concerts of 30,000 to 140,000 people.

  • Renovation of ‘Hall D’ into a high-quality 5,000-seat venue for professional lacrosse, rodeo events, minor hockey tournament championships and mid-size concerts that need a venue of this size.

Reid has that the next step is to “reach out to the community to see if we got this plan right, and to ask them to actively help us refine this vision.”

Reid went on to say, “This isn’t about us telling the community what they get – this is about the community telling us what they want.”

Horse Racing Alberta released a statement on the situation Wednesday. In the statement, HRA expressed that it ‘is aware of interests in building a track in the Edmonton area and will explore, with our industry partners, options for racing in the Edmonton area.’

The HRA statement also said, “Obviously we are disappointed in their decision to leave racing at Northlands Park, they have been a strong partner over many years. However, we respect their decision and wish them well in their new endeavors. We will work with Northlands Park as they transition out of racing to minimize the impact on our industry.”

The contents of the Northlands release, followed by the contents of the HRA release, appear below in their entirety.


NORTHLANDS RELEASES VISION 2020

Northlands’ Vision 2020 plan creates new signature athletic and entertainment spaces for Edmontonians

EDMONTON, AB – Today, alongside Mayor Don Iveson, Northlands President & CEO Tim Reid unveiled Northlands Vision 2020, a plan for the immediate future of the 160 acre Northlands campus.

“Northlands’ realities have changed and we needed to find new ways to serve our community, as we have for over 137 years,” continued Reid. “We listened closely to what our city needed and what we could realistically provide – Vision 2020 is the result.”

Vision 2020 is an innovative, tangible plan that satisfies the athletic and entertainment needs of Edmontonians. It takes advantage of buildings already in place and relies on Northlands’ proven capacity as one of the city’s premier events and athletics hosts. The transformation has three cornerstone projects:

  • Renovation of Rexall Place into the Northlands Ice Coliseum, an athletic complex with seven sheets of ice across two levels, with the ability to be converted to host other indoor sports such as volleyball, lacrosse, curling and indoor soccer.

  • The conversion of the current Northlands Park Racetrack & Casino into an Urban Festival Site – a multi-use public park with the ability to host large-scale festivals and outdoor concerts of 30,000 to 140,000 people.

  • Renovation of ‘Hall D’ into a high-quality 5,000-seat venue for professional lacrosse, rodeo events, minor hockey tournament championships and mid-size concerts that need a venue of this size.

“I congratulate Northlands on their bold new vision to repurpose their existing facilities,” said Mayor Iveson. “My Council colleagues and I are looking forward to hearing more details and listening to what Edmontonians think of the Northlands proposal.”

The new spaces will compliment Northland’s large roster of traditional events and programming, such as K-Days, FarmFair International, its connection to agriculture and the many shows and conferences that currently make their home at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

“Northlands belongs to everyone. Our next steps are to reach out to the community to see if we got this plan right, and to ask them to actively help us refine this vision,” said Reid. “This isn’t about us telling the community what they get – this is about the community telling us what they want.”


Statement from Horse Racing Alberta - re: Northlands Park decision

The Alberta Horse Racing and Breeding industry is rich in history, tradition and culture. Horse Racing began in Alberta in 1905, and we thank Northlands Park for being a part of that tradition for over 100 years. Obviously we are disappointed in their decision to leave racing at Northlands Park, they have been a strong partner over many years. However, we respect their decision and wish them well in their new endeavors. We will work with Northlands Park as they transition out of racing to minimize the impact on our industry.

In Alberta, the Horse Racing and Breeding Industry is a way of life. Every day over 7,000 Albertans work hard caring for over 7,000 horses in communities across our Province.

Horse Racing Alberta remains committed to continue to race, entertain, provide jobs and contribute significantly to Alberta's economy.

Horse Racing Alberta is aware of interests in building a track in the Edmonton area and will explore, with our industry partners, options for racing in the Edmonton area.



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