Horsepeople Voice Displeasure

Published: March 8, 2016 01:54 pm EST

On Monday, March 8 in Alberta, a small group of provincial horsepeople voiced their displeasure with Northlands Park’s decision to not offer live horse racing beyond the 2016 season.

As an article by the Edmonton Sun explains, Monday marked the last day of public consultations in regard to Northlands’ ‘Vision 2020’ proposal, which calls for the Edmonton raceway to be 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.

On Monday, the group of horsepeople that were in attendance took the opportunity to say that they did not believe that enough was being done to make a day at the track an enticing sell to the younger demographic, which are often commonly referred to as ‘millennials’ and seen as an extremely important in future growth and interest in the product.

The importance of marketing to millennials has been well covered in gaming circles as of late, and the horsepeople in question conveyed that message yet again on Monday.

Thirty-year-old Northlands chart caller Amy Welch, who is also the wife of star Alberta jockey Quincy Welch, said that “everything is about an experience for us millennials” and insinuated that a strong social media presence promoting the product would go a long way in helping Northlands reach prospective customers.

Seventy-year-old Linda Smith, whose family has been involved in horse racing for five decades, said that Northlands’ recent announcement did not go over well whatsoever.

She also stated that she believes that “there are so many people who don't even know that there is racing going on in their own backyard.”

When Northlands’ Vision 2020 proposal was unveiled last month, the organization’s president and CEO, Tim Reid, did explain that there is always a chance that something could change. He cited negotiations between Horse Racing Alberta and the provincial government, which could, in theory, see Northlands racing saved.

“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.”

(With files from the Edmonton Sun)

Have something to say about this? Log in or create an account to post a comment.