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And They're Off! Ceremonial groundbreaking for new Calgary horse racetrack and casino

Get ready to make your picks and place your bets: horse racing is on its way back to Calgary.

The United Horsemen of Alberta and Century Casinos held their ceremonial groundbreaking today for the brand new horse racing and entertainment centre, to be built just east of CrossIron Mills Mall.

The $24 million facility will be the only horse racetrack in the Calgary area, with a 0.7 mile track, along with 550 gaming machines, a bar, lounge, restaurant and off-track betting space.

Paul Ryneveld with Century Casinos Special Projects said it’s time to start building for the next holiday season, after several failed attempts to bring the sport back to Calgary, after it ended at Stampede Park years ago.

“Our target for completion is actually a year from right now, we are hoping to basically this time next year, be having another event and that would be the grand opening,” he said.

Ryneveld added the big difference with this project is how it’s being built from the ground up and gone are the days of the massive grandstands that only get filled once a year.

Unlike 50 to 60-year-old tracks which got retrofitted for gaming later, this one will incorporate both from the very beginning.

He said the modern design will do away with traditional massive grandstands, but they’ll be prepared for major events.

“We’ll do like what Churchill Downs and some of the big racetracks throughout North America do, we’ll bring in temporary seating, tents, beer gardens, things like that,” he said.