Century Mile racetrack opens, with new season just four weeks away
'We really believe this industry is rejuvenating, and it's exciting to be part of that'
The Century Mile Racetrack and Casino in Leduc County held its official opening Monday, with speeches, champagne toasts and a tour of the new state-of-the art facility.
The $61.5-million Century Mile Entertainment Centre, at 4711 Airport Perimeter Rd., features a race track, gambling areas and a grandstand building.
The company's Century Downs racetrack in north Calgary opened April 1, 2015. Both racetracks will feature thoroughbred, standardbred and quarter-horse racing throughout the year.
Kent Verlik, chief executive officer of Horse Racing Alberta, said the racing industry contributed almost $300 million to the Alberta economy in 2015.
"Now we've had two race tracks open up since 2016," he said. "We really believe this industry is rejuvenating, and it's exciting to be part of that.
"The first horse races took place in Alberta in the 1880s, and we've had a proud racing history in and around the city of Edmonton for the past 118 years."
The 89,700-square-foot entertainment centre has amenities on three floors.
The first floor includes a betting area, 550 slot machines and electronic table games, 14 video lottery terminals, and a restaurant, bar and lounge.
The second floor has indoor and outdoor grandstand seating, three private suites, a betting area, and a bar, buffet and grill.
The third floor has an open patio with views of the racetrack and paddock.
The new facility, the only one-mile track in Canada west of Ontario, has a 1,280-foot homestretch, one of the longest in North America, said Paul Ryneveld, managing director of racing for Century Casinos.
"We can pursue better races and subsequently better horses over the next years for the benefit of horse racing and horse racing fans," Ryneveld said.
Traffic tips for air travellers
On the 100-acre property near the Edmonton International Airport (EIA), the company has built barns with 800 stalls for horses and more than 1,700 parking stalls for visitors.
Racing season is scheduled to start April 28, with thoroughbreds racing for the first time on the Century Mile track.
With the opening of the casino and racetrack, travellers are being advised to allow extra travel time to get to the airport.
In a news release, EIA warned air travellers of "heavy traffic" in the area because of the opening.
"During the first few days that Century Mile Racetrack and Casino will be open, there will be many people coming early to see the facility and finding their way around EIA for the first time," the news release said. "This will cause extra traffic volume."