Assiniboia Downs preparing for another year with no fans
WINNIPEG -- Like so many businesses in the province, Assiniboia Downs had to adjust to the climate of the pandemic in 2020, and for a second straight year, that will be the case.
The horse racetrack is set to have live racing begin on May 17, but because of COVID-19 and the current health restrictions in place, no fans will be in attendance.
"We're just excited to race, to be honest with you. To have the greenlight with the province, they really worked with us," said Darren Dunn, the CEO of the track.
Dunn said he is unsure at this point if fans will be allowed back at all during 2021, but either way Assiniboia Downs is prepared for it.
"The guidance we have from the province right now, spectator free. We don't have any forecasting on when crowds will return in any meaningful way, so we'll use (the province's) playbook and move from that direction, and see how it goes."
The 2021 season will look very similar to 2020, as people will be able to gamble on and watch the racing online.
"We completely rebuilt how we sold Assiniboia Downs, how we marketed Assiniboia Downs. Ultimately, without having any spectators on site, we went global. We sold our television signal sale all over the world into exciting new markets that produced the kind of revenue that with a high volume and even a small margin returned to us was able to backfill the massive revenue losses in our VLTs, our food and beverages and our facility rentals as well."
The track has been talking with its international partners and Dunn said there is an appetite to continue with the online market.
He said if 2021 is a successful year, this is a path the organization could continue travel on, even if fans are back at the racetrack.
"We believe in 2022, we may be able to take Assiniboia Downs to a whole new level."
Dunn said racing will take place in the evenings Monday to Wednesday, and people will be able to go online and watch everything online.