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City Offers Update On 'Woodbine Live!'

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Published: May 8, 2012 11:51 am ET

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The Woodbine Entertainment Group's planned expansion for Woodbine Racetrack, Woodbine Live!, has drawn the attention of multiple mainstream media publications after an update from a Toronto City Manager has essentially brought a status report to the public.

An article by the Toronto Star Monday evening explained that as of April 19, 2012 developers of the Woodbine Live! expansion had yet to apply for building permits. The report also stated that, at that this point, the project is running the risk of not reaching construction and employment targets which would allow the expansion to be eligible for $120 million in tax breaks over the next 20 years.

The official update on the situation from Toronto City Manager Joseph Pennachetti states that, “Since August 2011, city planning has been waiting for submission of final engineering drawings and other planning applications. Planning staff have had no formal discussion with the Woodbine Live! project since August 2011.”

On Tuesday morning, The Globe and Mail ran an article on the situation which contained quotes from WEG CEO Nick Eaves. He explained that the project's delay has come due to a disagreement with its partner on the project, The Cordish Companies, based out of Baltimore, Maryland, which has brought such expansion projects to fruition in the past.

The Globe article quoted Eaves as saying, “There certainly is a dispute between the parties." He also went on to say, “Those issues are being dealt with through confidential arbitration.”

Deciding to not comment on the delays when contacted by The Globe, Cordish, via written release, simply opted to speak of the tremendous potential and the excitement surrounding the expansion. “Woodbine Live!, among other things, has always been about world-class entertainment that acts as a major regional tourist draw,” the release stated. “We are in the fortunate position of having both anchor and inline tenants committed and tenant interest has been off the charts.”

The Globe article even quotes Councillor Doug Ford, who represents the Etobicoke Ward, as saying that he and others are trying their best to get the two sides to come to an agreement, but that they essentially don't have any power over the situation. “We just have to get the two parties in the room together,” Councillor Ford said. “We are a facilitator, not an arbitrator.”

Councillor Janet Davis, who is also looking for answers regarding the situation, was quoted in an article by The National Post. She wondered if the province's plan to build a casino in the GTA has affected the development.

Also, The Globe report stated that under the current Woodbine Live! expansion deal with the city, casino gaming is not permitted at the location.

(With files from the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and The National Post)

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