Kawartha Downs unveils 2022 50th anniversary season lineup, master plan for revitalization project over the next two years

FRASERVILLE — Kawartha Downs unveiled the 2022 lineup for its 50th anniversary season and provided details about its ambitious Master Plan to build several new outdoor and indoor entertainment facilities on site — part of a sprawling multi-million dollar revitalization project — during a press conference Wednesday.

“Kawartha Downs is an iconic location,” said Richard Weldon, managing director at Kawartha Downs.

Kawartha Downs is a subsidiary of Romspen Investment Corp. Kawartha Downs was acquired by Romspen in June 2019.

“Some may want to focus on the residential part of the plan but the good council of Cavan Monaghan understood the real prize was this project here,” continued Weldon, who was joined by local partners and Cavan Monaghan Township Mayor Scott McFadden.

“For business employment, for tourism, for municipal tax revenue — it’s all here. I’m not overreaching in saying this is an opportunity for everyone.

Within the next 18 months, a number of facilities will be built at the Kawartha Downs site as part of the master plan, including a multi-use addition to the existing building operating as a 3,000- to 4,000-seat indoor concert hall. The same building will also be converted into a convention exhibition space and, for most of the time, an indoor soccer training facility.

“One thing we’ve done is listen to the community and there’s certain needs and we’re trying to accommodate all of those needs in the new facility,” Weldon said.

Additionally, the 18-month time frame will see the construction of an outdoor concert facility with a capacity of 15,000-plus people; a full-scale, permanent 500-foot long tractor pull facility/arena with a spectator capacity of more than 5,000 people; a new convertible horse/cattle and exhibit space that’s capable of being accessed by the surrounding agricultural community for cattle sales and exhibit space; a 220-room hotel attached to the existing casino and an outdoor FIFA soccer field.

Over 4,000 will be made available, Weldon explained.

Romspen plans to build the tractor pull area and interim concert venue will be built before July, allowing for concert and tractor pull capability all summer long.

“In addition, we’re going to be experimenting with a number of smaller business opportunities,” he added, including a high-end “pop up” steak house, Friday night rib fests featuring local talent and dancing and a newly renovated retro diner .

“That’s the plan — sooner than later,” Weldon said. “We’re building on the magic. We’re building on what is already here.”

As a multibillion dollar financial company, Weldon said Romspen will work with all three levels of government to “make this a true public/private partnership.”

“With the support of the local government, in particular Mayor Scott McFadden and the entire council, our master plan can largely be built in just 18 to 24 months,” he continued.

The residential component of the revitalization project — 588 new homes, including 193 townhouses, 272 semi-detached homes and 123 detached homes — will take longer. Romspen expects it to be completed in three to four years.

In the meantime, Romspen and Kawartha Downs are focusing on building the entertainment facilities to transform Kawartha Downs into a “destination” for local residents and tourists alike.

The 2022 season will kick off on opening day on May 28 and will continue every Saturday through till Sept. 27, starting at 6 pm Opening day festivities on May 28 include a class car show, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring more than 200 cars. At 2 pm, Kim Mitchell and more performers will hit the stage for a concert, followed by harness racing from 6 pm to 9 pm A “mega fireworks” display will close out the night at 9:30 pm

Festival Weekend, will feature a Festival of Retro Music, with fireworks in the evening on July 2. The following day will host a Festival of Country and Western bands, including at least four headliners, followed by more fireworks.

A tractor pull and agricultural fair will take place on Aug. 5, along with a “major” country and western headliner concert — and more fireworks.

“This is just fantastic news for the whole community,” McFadden said.

“They’re building a destination for people to attend and they’re just going to knock this out of the park. They reached out right from the start to our community to find out what it is we needed … and what (we’re getting) is exactly what we were asking for.”

Romspen was recently granted a provincial ministerial zoning order to fast-track the development. The company intends to cover water and utility servicing costs to the 262 acres it owns — 112 at Kawartha Downs and 150 acres north of the harness track — and has also committed to providing services to the Peterborough Airport if required.

— with files from Joelle Kovach and Mike Davies

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting of him is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at bburke@metroland.com.

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