Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Woodbine Plans New Entertainment Venue
Plans for the 165,000-square-foot complex were unveiled Tuesday by Woodbine Entertainment Group.
It will include a 5,000-seat concert venue and be developed with, and likely be operational before, an Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) expansion of gaming at the Rexdale track.
Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson said the plan is dependent on a market feasibility study, but insisted it will move forward given that predictions call for the OLG expansion to attract about 12 million people a year — double the current number of visitors.
“There will be an entertainment facility built here,” Lawson said. “This is where we’re at today. As the OLG modernization process proceeds and we work together on an integrated product, the plans could change for this. There is no question there will be an entertainment venue here.”
Woodbine Entertainment Group will partner with Trinity Development Group to build the venue with private funds. Trinity redeveloped Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park which opened in November 2014.
Construction on the Woodbine project could start in 2017 and be open by 2019.
“Creating jobs in this area is important as is maintaining the jobs that we have at Woodbine,” Lawson said.
In July 2015, city council voted 25-19 to support expanded gaming at the Woodbine site. Keerthana Kamalavasan, spokesman for Mayor John Tory, said the civic leader believes expanding gaming at the race track — along with a broader vision — will drive economic development.
“He would rather see a broader kind of entertainment complex in that area than a stand-alone box casino,” she said. “Woodbine Entertainment Group is moving in this direction with the development of an entertainment venue where people can go to that part of the city to watch shows or concerts.”
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