Canterbury Aims to Recoup $3M Lost During Shutdown

The company-which resumed operations on Thursday-is looking at ways to make up the estimated $3 million that it lost during the government shutdown, including adding races, extending the racing season, and rescheduling Fourth of July festivities.

After 20 days of suspended operations due to the Minnesota government shutdown, Canterbury Park in Shakopee reopened on Thursday-and leaders are now searching for ways to recoup $3 million in revenue that was lost during that time.

In addition to lost revenue, the company has spent “thousands” in legal fees associated with unsuccessful petitions that lobbied for the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC) to be permitted to operate during the shutdown.

Canterbury's operations are regulated by the MRC, an agency that was forced to cease operations on July 1 under the shutdown. The park was forced to close because the MRC must be operational in order for Canterbury to keep its doors open.

Jeff Maday-spokesman for Canterbury Park Holding Corporation, which owns the park-told Twin Cities Business on Thursday that the company is exploring several options to recoup some of the lost revenue. But he added that it is unlikely that the company will be able the make up all the lost revenue.

“This was a tough period,” Maday said.

Additional races have already been added to this weekend's racing schedule and will continue to be added throughout the rest of the season, which will make up for a few of the 12 racing days that were lost during the shutdown. Maday said that Canterbury will also likely add one or two weekends to the end of the season, which would make up for six lost days of racing.

In addition, Maday said that the company is considering rescheduling some of the events that would have taken place over the Fourth of July weekend-which is typically the busiest one of the year and brought in about $1.3 million in sales last year-including the fireworks show.

Over the next week, Canterbury will collect feedback from horsemen and customers to see whether there is enough interest to reschedule those festivities and extend the season past Labor Day.

Maday said that a majority of the horsemen at Canterbury-who aren't under contract to race there-have stuck around during the shutdown. He said that two trainers sent about 20 horses to race elsewhere, but some of them may return, especially if the season is extended.

“The horsemen have been loyal,” Maday said.”We've been lucky.”

Employees have also been loyal, Maday says, adding that about six seasonal employees-most of whom are college students-were forced to find work elsewhere and quit, but no full-time employees quit due to the shutdown.

The company will offer several promotions in the coming weeks in an attempt to get customers back through its doors. It hosted a free poker tournament on Thursday morning, and customers will gain free admission to races on Thursday night. Additional promotions will be offered throughout the remainder of the season, Maday said.

Canterbury is among the state's 90-largest public companies based on revenue, which totaled $39.92 million in 2010.