It's a big day for fans of horse racing in Calgary as the United Horsemen of Alberta — and its partner Century Casinos — announced its new track and casino will open before the end of 2014.

Thoroughbred racing at the only track in the Calgary area is set to begin in 2016.  

The $24-million dollar project will be built just north of the city near Balzac and the CrossIron Mills shopping centre.

  • For more details on the project, watch the video above.

"This will be the mecca of Canada racing — definitely the mecca of Western Canada racing," said Max Gibb, vice-chair of the horsemen's association. 

He said the venture translates into hundreds of millions of dollars in economic spin-offs for the Calgary area. 

"I'm the principal operator in Lethbridge, which is a small track," said Gibb. "For the last 10 years we've hit over $40 million in economic development for southern Alberta, and this will be six, seven or eight times that number."

Gibb admits plans for the racetrack have been plagued with delays over the last decade, but he says this time everything is in place and construction has already begun.

"I can tell you that the board of directors of Horse Racing Alberta was criticized at times for it, but never lost faith that this project would happen," said board chair Shirley McClellan.