Track could open within day of budget agreement

  • Article by: RON HAGGSTROM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 16, 2011 - 12:12 AM

The shutdown led to 1,000 employees being laid off, and revenue losses for the track and card club top $2 million.

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Canterbury Park worker Elias Ortiz tended to a horse in a barn Friday, the day after getting word that the track could be reopening soon.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson is eagerly awaiting the words "And, they're off!" again from track announcer Paul Allen as horses break from the starting gate at the Shakopee facility. The track and card club has been closed since July 1 due to the government shutdown.

"It's been a terrible couple of weeks," Sampson said. "This has been a very difficult time for all of us."

Thursday evening, DFL Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican leaders from the Legislature both signed off an agreement aimed to bring the shutdown to an end. A special session is tentatively set to begin Monday.

"It's very important for us to get them to finalize a deal," Sampson said. "We have our fingers crossed that there will be a resolution very soon."

Once a resolution is reached, it would take 24 hours before the track would be ready to return to business. The card club could be back open within four to six hours.

"We have discussed a lot of things, but nothing has been finalized," Canterbury Park media relations manager Jeff Maday said. "We are ready to be creative."

Canterbury runs a schedule consisting of 62 racing days, usually Thursday through Sunday, with several additional holidays, from early May through Labor Day. With the cancellation of this weekend's race cards, they have lost 12 of those dates.

They could add a race or two on each card to make up for the lost meets, add a couple of extra meets (on a Monday or Wednesday) in August or ask the racing commission to extend the season another week in September.

The track and card club lost approximately $1 million in revenue each week and laid off 1,000 of its 1,100 workers during the shutdown, according to Maday. The track's next scheduled meet is Thursday.

"I want to get all of our laid-off employees and horsemen back to work," Sampson said. "Until [Thursday] there was no end in sight."

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