09/17/2003 12:00AM

Financing needed for renovation

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EDMONTON, Alberta - Little progress has been made in recent months regarding the renovation of Northlands Park that was proposed last year, but the project is far from dead.

Late in 2002, it was announced that Northlands Park was to undergo a $40 million renovation that would create a 6 1/2-furlong track that would surround the existing five-eighth-mile oval, which would remain as a harness racing surface.

The original plan called for Northlands to close following Labor Day for nine months, but on March 6 Northlands announced that the expansion plans were on hold.

Six months later, the expansion is no closer to becoming a reality but, according to Dr. David Reid, chairman of Horse Racing Alberta, the plans are still on the board.

"There were several architectural and land-use issues still to be addressed, so the original plans were placed under advisement," Reid said.

"All of the interested parties are still working towards an agreement that will be doable and satisfy the needs of the horsemen and Northlands Park."

One major obstacle that must be overcome is arranging financing. A new maintenance facility must be added into the mix and plans must be made to address the need for a new main sewer line from the property.

"There are really two parts to this," Reid said. "Northlands Park is committed to improving the overall entertainment value and environment for race fans, while also enhancing the facilities for horsemen. Everyone involved is continuing to move ahead with the expansion."