Balzac horseracing facility back on track
The proposed Balzac racing entertainment centre is one step closer to fruition.
The United Horsemen of Alberta (UHA) announced Dec. 3 that funding for the facility, located on 58 acres of land east of CrossIron Mills mall, has been secured.
Century Casinos Europe (CCE), a subsidiary of Century Casinos Inc., has agreed to loan UHA up to $13 million to develop the proposed project, which will include a 1.13-kilometre race track, gaming floor with 625 gaming machines, bar, lounge, restaurant facilities, off-track-betting area and stage.
“As you can imagine, we are just over the moon,” said Darcy Marler, president of the UHA. “This has been years in the making to get to this point. It’s a great day for horse racing in Alberta.”
Since its beginnings in 2004, the project has been plagued by challenges, such as a lack of water services and cash. The UHA has scaled down the proposed project from an earlier plan that included a large grandstand with bleacher seating, a five-star hotel, concert hall and two racetracks with a projected cost of about $220 million.
The pared-down version includes one track and an 850 to 1,000-seat grandstand. The projected value of the completed project will be about $35 million.
According to Marler, the project is subject to approval by Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, a process he expects to take between four and six months.
UHA is simultaneously working with Rocky View County on planning and development documents.
Horse Racing Alberta, the governing authority for horse racing in Alberta, has already approved the project and issued a license.
“If all goes well, we are hoping to have all the approvals by late spring, early summer, 2013,” said Marler, adding construction of the approximately 30,000-square-foot racing and entertainment centre is expected to be completed by late summer 2014.
According to Marler, horse barns, road structure and utilities are already in place.
“For the last few years, we have been in finding-money mode, and finally we get to switch to approval and design mode and hopefully next year construction mode,” said Marler.
If approved, the proposed project will be the only horse race track in the Calgary area.
Reeve Rolly Ashdown is excited about the project.
“It’s a great thing for the area,” he said. “It adds entertainment value, agricultural value and it is good for the tax diversification in Rocky View County. It’s going to be a great addition.”