While Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) Chairman Jan Wilson was busy closing tracks, she simultaneously was announcing to a select few that the embattled Geelong Greyhound Racing Club would be the beneficiaries of a $4.6 million redevelopment.
According to the Geelong Advertiser’s Dennis Craven, a new racetrack and grandstand will be built over seven months, starting next February and Greyhound Racing Victoria is funding the redevelopment.
GRV chairman Jan Wilson told Dennis Craven “the project would benefit the wider community and not just greyhound racing patrons”.
“The complex will be of the highest standard and be available for use by other community organisations,” Mrs Wilson said yesterday.
The new grandstand will have a 216-seat multi-purpose community function centre and be located closer to the track than the current grandstand.
This new grandstand upgrade follows the building of the new $1,200,000 kennel block and administration offices last year.
Geelong Greyhound Racing Club president Maurie Blair said his committee was “tickled pink” with GRV’s decision to invest heavily in Beckley Park.
“This has come about from five years of planning by the GGRC committee,” he said.
“Our first priority was to get a new kennel block. And now to get a new grandstand along with a new racetrack is breathtaking.
While no one could question the fact the Geelong’s amenities and facilities are amongst the worst in Victoria and in dire need of upgrade; this announcement to spend a further $4,600,000 of industry funds on a club that has only recently come out of industry administration could be cause for concern.
Add to that, the announcement from Racing Victoria that they intend to allocate 40 twilight and night racing dates this year in Geelong which could take place on a Friday evenings; and the facts that Geelong Greyhound Racing Club made a reported loss of approximately $160,000 last year and have recently been the centre of allegations of good old fashioned “branch stacking” and “proxy voting” amongst the committee.
According to Dennis Craven, Dale Jennings, chairman of Beckley Park committee of management, said “This is recognition of Geelong’s role as the leading greyhound centre in Australia”, and while Dale may have overstepped the mark a little, no one could argue that Geelong is certainly one of two primary greyhounds area in Victoria.
Given that fact, GRV have little to choice but to throw money at Geelong to try and support the ailing club and be better placed for the challenges that lay ahead from the thoroughbred racing. But many of the allegation and rumours eminating form Beckley Park do not inspire confidence in the Geelong Greyhound Racing Club’s long term health.
With GRV’s total investment in Geelong now reaching $6,000,000, Australian Racing Greyhound wonder how long it will be before the GRV place Geelong Greyhound Racing Club back under industry administration to protect their investment.