17 December 2009
Fort Erie Will Race For At Least Three More Years
Great news out of Fort Erie. The show will go on.
Here is how it will happen in a nutshell:
Nordic Gaming (the current owner of Fort Erie Racetrack) has agreed to lease out the track for $100,000 the first year, and $650,000 a year for the two subsequent years each.
Nordic Gaming is responsible for all severance packages and any incurred liabilities prior to January 1st, 2010.
The government of Ontario has stepped up to the plate, and will give the consortium $5.6 million per year for three years, in lieu of the 10% the track was receiving for their share of slots revenues (which has been around $4 million per year recently). The Town of Fort Erie is also adding $500,000 per year.
A new management team is to be implemented (approved by Nordic Gaming) as of July 1st, 2010.
EDIT: I must have heard something that wasn't said. All approvals will be made by the Consortia, not Nordic Gaming.
Quarter horse racing will be added. The extent of this has not been determined yet, but monies to fund these races will come from OHRIA's suplus. This is a potential new revenue source for Fort Erie, as they get to keep their share of monies bet on these races.
The plan right now is to run 8 thoroughbred races per day (and perhaps one or two quarter horse races), three days a week, for 78 days per year. This represents a drop of one race per day. The budget stands at around $100,000 a day in purse money, which means around $7.8 million will go to thoroughbred purses.
Essentially, the horsemen will get around $4 million from wagering and $4 million from their share of the slots (as long as slots revenues hold). This covers the purse structure.
The Consortia will have an extra $2,000,000 the first year to cover operating expenses (which means that they know that the losses that Nordic claim are really $2 million a year or less in actual operating expense losses). In year two and three, the Consortia has an extra $1,500,000 per year.
The bottom line, is there will be racing, and horsemen and fans need to thank people like Jim Thibert of the EDTC, Sue Leslie of the HBPA, Herb McGirr and Daryl Wells from Nordic, MPP Kim Craitor, and especially the Honourable Dwight Duncan, the Minister of Finance, who recognized the need to keep Fort Erie alive (he is the one who changed the deal on slots that made this happen), oh and cub reporter Perry Lefko, for keeping the story alive in Toronto.
Going forward, there are quite a few initiatives that can be done to increase betting at Fort Erie.
Lets see what happens.