News in Niagara

Fort Erie Race Track closing Dec. 31

6/6/2012

The Fort Erie Race Track's 115th season will be its last.

The Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium which runs the track, has voted to close it December 31st. There will still be some behind-the-scenes business at the track until April 2013.

Mayor Doug Martin admits the writing was on the wall when the provincial government shut down Fort Erie's slots in April.

The track counts on some $5-million/year from the slots for its budget.  Martin tells 610 CKTB's Kevin Jack the consortium knew without revenue from slots. it would be very difficult to keep the track operating.

The consortium couldn't convince OLG & the government to let them take a stab at running the slots along with the track. The group was sure they could run both, turn a profit & pay the province a $1-million/year.

Martin says it's "so sad" that the government has such a "cavalier attitude toward such a storied industry"  in Fort Erie. 

The mayor doesn't appreciate government rhetoric on the horse racing industry either.  Martin calls messaging from the Liberals that horse racing "subsidies" could be going to healthcare instead "inappropriate".  He feels it tells the 60 000 people who rely on racing for their livelihood that they don't matter.

The Fort Erie Race Track is the town's biggest employer with some 250 jobs.  But Martin says shutting the track down will hurt hundreds of other people---horse owners, people who provide hay & board horses.  Then there's the hit to local hotels, restaurants & shops.

Despite the planned closure, Martin is vowing to keep up the fight & talk with "whoever will listen" until the bitter end.

The Fort Erie Race Track's final season wraps up October 30th.

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