Cannington Greyhounds Faces Closure Threat

Greyhounds WA fears the code’s headquarters at Cannington could be closed under a plan to overhaul WA’s racing industry.

A community awareness campaign will be launched at tonight’s meeting to try to save the venue.

A Save Cannington petition will be available.

The first greyhound race at Cannington was held in December 1974, but there is real concern that the State’s governing racing body, Racing and Wagering WA, favours a single super venue at Mandurah. WA has only three greyhound tracks — Cannington, Mandurah and Northam.

Greyhounds WA owns the nine hectare Mandurah complex and a second 450m track could be built on the inside of the new 600m circuit.

Greyhounds WA leases the Cannington track from Canning Agricultural, Horticultural and Recreational Society and it has until July next year to confirm it wants a new 30-year agreement when the current lease expires in July 2011.

The annual rent is $450,000 but that is expected to rise due to the commercial value of the land on Albany Highway. Rent is negotiated every five years.

Greyhounds WA believes Cannington is not only a major racing and training centre, but is the “public face” of greyhound racing, with over 100,000 patrons attending the 107 meetings each year.

Cannington also hosts the National Sprint and Distance titles on a fiveyear rotational basis and stages 11 of the code’s 13 WA Group races including the $200,000 Group 1 Perth Cup.

Greyhound trainers have established kennels close to Cannington, and being within 15km of the CBD, it is easily accessible to the public.

“WA faces the sad but real prospect of becoming the only State that does not have a city greyhound track,” chief executive David Simonette said.

“If the industry wants a metropolitan track then it needs to show its support by signing the petition.

“Cannington is greyhound racing’s spiritual home and we will fight with all our might to keep hold of it.

“The battle at this stage is not with the landlord, but with RWWA to convince them that the retention of greyhound racing in the metropolitan area is essential to the wellbeing of the industry.”

Simonette said the cost to establish an equivalent venue in the metropolitan vicinity was prohibitive. “Our preference is to stay at Cannington, or if we have to relocate to another metropolitan site the required funding would be around $20 million — fairly unlikely in the current economic downturn,” he said.

Greyhounds WA spent $680,000 in 2004 to extend the kennel block. Simonette said $3.5 million was likely to be needed to overhaul the grandstand and administration amenities.

Courtesy : Robert Edwards, The West