Edmonton Indy on track

FRANK LANDRY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

A vote to close the City Centre Airport hasn't put the brakes on the Edmonton Indy -- at least for the time being.

The race will be held at the inner-city gateway this year and in July 2010.

"We have an agreement with Northlands that runs for this year and next year," said Edmonton Airports president and CEO Reg Milley.

"Then after that Northlands, they have an option for two more years with the race."

On Wednesday, city council voted 10-3 to close the gateway -- making room for a "transit-oriented" development.

The closure will be done in phases, beginning with immediate discussions to close runway 16-34.

The Indy track doesn't intersect that particular runway, said airport spokesman Traci Bednard.

"The race will continue this year, obviously, and we will continue to honour what's in our contract."

It's unclear, however, what will happen when that contract expires -- or whether the race will even return to the provincial capital.

Brian Leadbetter, a spokesman for Northlands, said the International Racing League is aware of the airport discussions, but he added it's too soon to "speculate on alternative race venues."

He said Northlands would first need a commitment from the city to back the race beyond 2010.

"We have lots of time to begin to iron out the potentials of other alternative venues," Leadbetter said.

Under the plan passed by council, negotiations will begin shortly with NAIT over plans to expand its campus onto airport property.

The NAIT LRT line -- still in the planning stages -- may also be realigned using some of the freed-up airport land.

A complete airport closure may still be decades away.


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