May 05, 2017 06:30 PM
Friday is the opening day of live racing at Canterbury Park. This is a big deal, according to John Groen, Canterbury's Vice President of Marketing, because it's the first time the park has opened on the weekend of the Kentucky Derby since 2008.
Crews at Canterbury Park were busy on Friday getting everything in place.
Canterbury Park partnered with Mystic Lake Casino in 2012 and the Mdewankanton Sioux invested $80 million over 10 years.
"It's a big reason why racing is still viable in Minnesota, and it is something that we were nervous about, quietly," Groen said.
That investment sparked some instant change out of the gates.
"(People) have been coming out in droves, the attendance has grown steadily year after year," Groen said.
The growth, he added, is with young spectators.
"We see ourselves in the entertainment business," Groen said.
Still, the starting gun hasn't sounded at Canterbury Park on Derby Weekend for the past few years.
Some executives and staff were fraught with worry about the lack of staff to bring back such a grand event. But Groen said they decided 2017 would be different.
"We have attracted a different group who otherwise had to sit idle for a couple of weeks. It is their livelihood so they want to race more days and extend the season. It's been a benefit to them I think. It will be a benefit to racing fans to have a true derby party in Minnesota unlike anything you've seen for a better part of 10 years."
Groen said spectators can come in person on Friday, and while at Canterbury Park, they can place bets on Saturday races. The windows are open on Friday until midnight.
Updated: May 05, 2017 06:30 PM
Created: May 05, 2017 04:54 PM
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