I and several members of my family have worked at the Fort Erie Race Track so I have a keen interest in having it survive. I believe that it was wrong to pull the Slots from Fort Erie and if SOME race tracks get OLG Slots revenue, then ALL race tracks should get Slots revenue. However, even with Fort Erie's previous Slots revenue, the Track still struggled to survive. It is great that the EDTC has recently developed the Year of the Horse Festival Proposal but I think the Track needs more. Now that the Slots are all out of the Track, I would like to see the nicely finished gaming area converted to a convention centre.
Back in March of 2013, I discussed the Track with Kim Craitor and he explained to me that one of the main expenses with operating Fort Erie is its large backstretch. A complication is that the Track is leased from a property developer. Ideally, the stalls should be rented out all year rather than just during the summer. I got to thinking about this and thought that it would be a good idea to expand its business model. Rather than focusing on horse-racing, I think it would be better if the Track included an equestrian training facility. It could then also host equestrian events as well as recreation and therapy (see http://www.icanter.ca/) . With suitable programs, Fort Erie could be a tourist destination for travelers interested in horses.
I believe that only the University of Guelph specializes in equine studies in Ontario. I don't see any race track facilities listed as partners. This type of partnership might be able provide a good baseline revenue for the facility. I want to see the Ministry of Education create a Fort Erie equine studies campus for an Ontario university.
To summarize, what I want to do for the Track is:
- Partner with an Ontario university/college to establish an equestrian/veterinary school of study at Fort Erie
- Make use of the Track's former Slots facilities and repurpose them as a convention centre
- Add other equestrian events to the operation of the site to give it broader business plan
- Open the site up for equestrian-related tourism so that tourists could ride horses on the Track's grounds (like the training track are on the west side of Thompson Rd) and nearby trails