Great Canadian Completes Purchase of Hastings Park
by Kristin Ingwell Goode
Date Posted: 4/8/2004 4:49:59 PM
Last Updated: 4/8/2004 4:54:06 PM

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, through one of its subsidiaries 686486 BC Ltd., completed its purchase of Hastings Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, in a $20.1 million deal on Thursday. Great Canadian indicated an interest in the racetrack almost immediately after Woodbine Entertainment Group put it on the market in late February.

The purchase involves Great Canadian paying WEG $8.9 for its ownership share of Hastings Entertainment Inc. (HEI), $4 million to reduce existing debt, and assumption of $7.2 in additional liabilities. With the purchase, Great Canadian also acquires licenses to open seven teletheaters in the Vancouver metropolitan area.

In connection with the deal, Wall Financial Group has agreed to acquire a 40% interest in HEI. Brothers Peter Wall, CEO, and Bruno Wall, president, head up Wall Financial, a real estate and development company based in British Columbia. Peter Wall has raced a number of stakes winners and continues to be supportive of the Thoroughbred industry. The Walls' involvement is subject to approval by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch of British Columbia.

Great Canadian currently operates seven casinos in British Columbia and four in Washington state. When the company's interest in Hastings was announced, spokesman Howard Blank said, "we want to bring the prestige and the fun back to racing. We've seen a lot of the improvements Woodbine did, and we just want to carry that on. We're committed to the staff and management, they're going to stay in place, and we're just going to facilitate them."

Still in the works is a request made last year to the Vancouver City Council to consider installation of slot machines at the racetrack. That could be revisited as early as June. At the same time, the Hastings Park/PNE project is underway, which allows for public commentary on that measure and other plans for the facility, which is part of a larger exhibition grounds.

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