Dapto Greyhound Racing Club’s 80th anniversary plans are now in doubt. (ABC TV: Billy Cooper)
Greyhound Racing New South Wales has described an attempt to shut down the iconic Dapto Dogs as unlawful and has promised to do “whatever it can” to ensure the dogs run at tonight’s races.
- Greyhound Racing NSW says it was “blindsided” by a decision to shut down the iconic Dapto Dogs
- The show society operator claimed yesterday that the governing body had presented it with “non-negotiable terms”
- The announcement seemed to signal the end of an 82-year run, but there is a chance a race will be held tonight
In a shock move yesterday, the Dapto Agricultural and Horticultural Society announced racing at the track would cease immediately, saying the governing body had left it with no choice.
But Greyhound Racing New South Wales boss Tony Mestrov said the show society’s decision to shut the track down acts against its constitution.
“We’ve been blindsided by the announcement and we’ll be doing everything we can to ensure racing goes ahead tonight,” Mr Mestrov said.
“I’ll be moving heaven and earth as the trainers and owners are for racing to go ahead.
“I was shocked by the news, we were fully supporting the club, we’re just baffled by this sudden decision.”
He is expected to visit the track today and make a further announcement.
“The dogs will race tonight,” Mr Mestrov said.
Yesterday Dapto Agricultural and Horticultural Society said Greyhound Racing NSW presented them with non-negotiable terms that put development plans and tenancy commitments at risk.
“Locking us into a non-negotiable, three-year term forced us into an unwinnable and financially damaging situation without the certainty of our regular Thursday night timeslot,” the society’s chairperson, Noel Leslie, said.
“We have no alternative but to cease greyhound racing.
“Dapto is a rapidly growing community and there is a great need to build recreational facilities for families and children … and sustaining an activity at the expense of developing new community infrastructure is a decision that can’t be justified.”
Mr Leslie said the society will take steps to identify redeployment opportunities and is looking at redeveloping the area.
“We have a heavy heart that this iconic greyhound track has closed,” he said.
“We are looking at delivering new opportunities for our community and the generations to come.”
“Our plans and goals include building both indoor and outdoor recreation, outdoor children’s playground, cafes, restaurants and a multi-purpose hall.”
Dapto Dogs has been holding races south of Wollongong, in the NSW Illawarra region, since 1937.
Glenn Goodwin has been training greyhounds at Dapto Showground since 1979 and said yesterday was a sad day.
“No matter where you go in the world everyone knows Dapto Dogs and that’s the shame about the whole thing,” Mr Goodwin said.
Mark Suttle has been involved in the industry for 30 years and said for most people who come to the track greyhound racing is a hobby.
“For a lot of us it’s about the passion, it’s not all about money,” Mr Suttle said.
“Unfortunately with Greyhound Racing NSW is does all come down to money.”
Kevin Keys grew up at Dapto Showground and has been training greyhounds for 51 years.
“To see Dapto Greyhound Racing Club say that there’s no longer any racing at Dapto Showground is pretty gut-wrenching,” he said.