Canterbury: More than $2M in Losses Since Shutdown

After an unsuccessful attempt earlier this month, the company petitioned the state again last week to allow the commission that regulates it to operate during the shutdown.

Minnesota's government shutdown is in its 12th day, and Canterbury Park in Shakopee is still fighting to be able to resume operations after having lost at least $2 million in revenue.

Jeff Maday-spokesman for Canterbury Park Holding Corporation, which owns the park-on Monday told Twin Cities Business that the company lost at least $2 million in the first 10 days of the month following the shutdown. The park's operations are regulated by the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC), an agency that was forced to cease operations under the shutdown. The MRC must be operational in order for Canterbury to keep its doors open.

Maday said that it's hard to pinpoint exactly how much money the company has lost because many factors attribute to its sales-including weather-but he added that the park lost 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.

After the state shutdown began, Canterbury filed a petition asking the courts to allow the MRC to continue operating because it is fully funded by the racing industry, requires no general fund dollars, and has already received payment for all expected July expenses (Canterbury pays required fees to the MRC a month in advance of when they are used). But Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin denied that request.

Last week, Canterbury-along with Running Aces Harness Park, a racetrack and card club in Columbus-filed a request for reconsideration.

“The tracks seek to clarify crucial facts regarding funding for the Minnesota Racing Commission that place the MRC on the same footing as the Minnesota Zoo, which was permitted to reopen,” attorneys for the two companies wrote in a letter to Gearin.

Maday said he expects to receive a response to the reconsideration request by Tuesday. Maday said that if Gearin again denies the request, Canterbury will file an appeal-a process that could take up to two weeks.

According to Maday, most of the horsemen-none of whom are under contract-have stuck around during the shutdown, but some have indicated that they will leave if they aren't able to race this weekend. Maday said that in addition to losing horsemen to other tracks, some owners may decide to send horses back to the farm because they don't want to pay to continue training the horses-which costs an average of $50 to $60 per day-if they aren't racing.

“We're not seeing a mass exodus,” Maday said, adding that it's not easy for trainers to pack up and leave to race elsewhere because the competition and racing conditions vary from track to track, and finding a comparable racing facility can be difficult.

Although Canterbury hasn't been operating as usual, Maday said that the park is still paying a staff of about 75 to maintain its training operations, work on the upkeep of the park, and provide security services.

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