09/21/2016 1:10PM

Rights for new Edmonton track awarded to Century Casinos Europe

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Century Casinos Europe GmbH was awarded the right to build a new gaming and horse-racing facility in the Edmonton, Alberta, area. There were four final bids submitted to Horse Racing Alberta to build a facility that will replace Northlands Park, which was slated to close at the end of this year. Century currently owns and operates Century Downs, a gaming and horse-racing facility in Balzac, a suburb of Calgary.

It is possible that Northlands will remain open until the new track is completed, according to Shirley McClellan, chief executive of Horse Racing Alberta, the not-for-profit corporation that regulates racing in Alberta.

“We are in discussions with the management of Northlands and the city of Edmonton to keep the track open,” McClellan said. “The new facility will bring the stability that is needed in the industry. Century met all the qualifying criteria, and they have experience in gaming and horse racing.”

The new track will be called Century Mile and will be built near Edmonton International Airport, which is about 19 miles from downtown Edmonton. It will be the first one-mile track in Western Canada and will have the ability to house 1,100 slot machines. “We’re excited about moving forward with the project,” said Paul Ryneveld, general manager of Century Downs.

Thoroughbreds have yet to race at Century Downs, but Ryneveld sees a split season when the facility is completed.

“The plan is to have both breeds running at both tracks,” Ryneveld said. “We will also have room to build a turf course at Century Mile. Realistically, we could be running by the third quarter of 2018.”

Trainer Rod Cone, who is on the board of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Alberta, is looking forward to racing at the new track.

“It’s a positive move, and it will be pretty exciting racing on a mile track,” Cone said. “It will also be a big plus getting back into the Calgary area.”

Thoroughbreds haven’t raced in Calgary since 2008.