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Longtime Canterbury Park chairman Curtis Sampson dies at 87

Sampson was inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame back in 2012.

SHAKOPEE, Minn. — Canterbury Park announced the death of their chairman emeritus Curtis Sampson at the age of 87 on Thursday.

In a press release sent out Thursday Night, the Canterbury organization said Sampson was instrumental in reopening Canterbury Park horse track in 1994, with live horse racing resuming the following year.

"Under his chairmanship, Canterbury Park was transformed from a shuttered racetrack into one of the most attended racetracks in the nation through a unique blend of entertainment and a relentless focus on its family-friendly atmosphere," the organization said in the release. 

According to the organization, Sampson dipped his feet into the world of horse breeding and racing in the 1980s with his son Randy at the then-called Canterbury Downs in Shakopee. 

The track faltered following an initial, but short-lived period of success, losing nearly $10 million in 1992, by the organization's estimate - which was its final year of operation.

The track was later purchased by Curtis, his son Randy and businessman Dale Schenian in 1994, with Curtis taking on the mantle of Chairman of the Board.

The organization says, "[Curtis Sampson] thought it possible to turn a business that lost millions of dollars into a profitable venture but more importantly he knew what it could mean for those involved in the industry." 

Sampson was inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame back in 2012.

During his induction speech he stated, "It had taken our whole team [at Communications Systems Inc.] 15 years to generate 1,500 good jobs. In one fell swoop, by buying Canterbury, there could be 1,500 people back to work.” 


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