Is it time to relinquish Wentworth Park?

SEPTEMBER 2017 will mark the 30th anniversary of the closure of Harold Park. That closure reduced Sydney city racing to just one venue, Wentworth Park, and now, three decades on, isn’t it time we gave serious consideration to letting it go as well?

It is the country people of NSW who saved greyhound racing in this state. If the National Party led by Troy Grant had managed to hold on to Orange in the recent by-election, with only a small swing against them, it is possible Premier Baird might well have stuck to his original decision to ban greyhound racing.

As it was, the result was a damning indictment of his unilateral decision and forced Troy Grant to fall on his sword.

Nonetheless, as has been noted elsewhere on this website, greyhound racing in NSW is far from secure as we move into an uncertain regulatory future. There is no doubt from the statements the premier has made since his turnaround that he still believes greyhound racing should end, and I have little doubt he will be doing all he can from behind the scenes to make sure that comes about. If he couldn’t achieve by direct action, then stealth will have to do.

From the Northern Rivers, the Hunter Valley, the Southern Tablelands and elsewhere, the real heart of greyhound racing has always been out in the country. The inner-city, with all the inherent problems of negotiating the traffic, is no longer where the centrepiece of greyhound racing in NSW needs to be, or probably should be. After all, Wentworth Park on anything other than a major race night is about as busy as a cemetery at midnight.

To paraphrase that much overworked karaoke favourite My Way, ‘Crowds, we get a few, but then again, too few to mention’. The wagering landscape has changed enormously in the three decades since the closure of Harold Park and greyhound racing has gained in popularity as a wagering sport since that time, but we don’t really see that in the numbers attending the course.

Crowds will come, but they need a good reason to get out from behind a TV screen. We saw that with the Adelaide Cup at Angle Park last year when the great Fernando Bale was in action. The Melbourne Cup is another that attracts the bums on seats, as does the Golden Easter Egg, but for much of the rest of the time owners, trainers and officials outnumber the punters.

Obviously, there would need to be some serious negotiations regarding the compensation to be paid to NSW greyhound racing for quitting Wentworth Park.

Forget about somehow being seen to cave in to the ultimate wishes of our benighted premier. Think of it more as just sensible business in the modern era.

This would leave a win-win situation for everybody. The State Government gets control of Wentworth Park, trainers get to race at a location which is far closer to where they live and work, thereby reducing the costs of travel significantly, as well as reducing the equally important loss of time, and because the new ‘city’ circuit is sited within the greyhound belt, for want of a better term, it is likely the crowds will be just as good if not better than they were at Wentworth Park.

So, while Harold Park was the ‘jewel in the crown’ from the start of the sport in 1927 until its closure in 1987, and Wentworth Park has held that mantle since then.

Given the simple demographics of change, perhaps the new centre of the NSW greyhound crown should now be passed on to Richmond, a track with an already long history and one which surely would suit a majority of trainers.

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spyman
spyman
4 years ago

one simple word to the question…..YES.

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

Thank you for a great article and you right, we must look outside the square ,unfortunately for many years we have been dominated by the main race clubs GBOTA and the NCA and through my own experience with these clubs and the grnsw  they are the ones who who have lead us  down the road of destruction .The reluctance of the government of the day to do anything about their behavior is why we have this Mexican stand off with this rotten Baird government. Baird will put in place a process  which will allow the industry to self destruct its… Read more »

CRAZYCRAW
CRAZYCRAW
4 years ago

No. Wentworth Park has always been the home of Greyhound Racing in NSW. Being in the heart of the city it allows tourists to experience this great spectacle. How many overseas and interstate tourists are going to catch the wonderful public transport provided to get out to Londonderry if Richmond is the closest city track? I believe Wenty should be protected by the National Trust as a historic site. You may say who cares about the tourists, but it is more about promoting the sport for the world to see and in effect locals to see how unique and beneficial… Read more »

spyman
spyman
4 years ago

CRAZYCRAW  we have to let go soon. crowds do not go to WP anymore,unless a big night. in home technology has killed the crowds for sure.we are now a lazy race,but we also have dangers in inner city life to combat now.

we have to accept the track is no longer a proposition.the GREENS will hammer home,and BAIRD has his development mentality. we are done,let them have it(comp paid though) and create these centers of excellence.

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

spyman CRAZYCRAW The location of the Metropolitan Track is important for promotions as a whole in animal racing and prestige is very important to people who have nothing and celebrate in the ownership of common property. You need to be careful because you can take away things from people with nothing. 

The flattening of prize money, the abandonment of group racing , and the location of racing in low cost land and labor areas will return more prize money per head to participants without them having to put in much of an effort but it will kill the dream.

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw The six million deal fell through the cracks when people focussed their attack on themselves instead of  focusing on the main game..

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw Yes John the Metropolitan race clubs and their leadership over many years with the help of GRNSW have leads us down this road of self destruction and now the Government is going to tip us out on our ear with nothing in return. Thank You for nothing the Metropolitan Clubs.

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw John Tracey Once again a lot of what you are saying is fair comment. I  tried to take the houses off several people and I would have gone a lot further than just the club members.(I am not a soft touch)… The GBOTA in my view is an ethical organisation and ethics can win in the end over  even poor performance. What cannot survive in unethical behaviour as this leads to unlawful and criminal behaviour. I have always discounted my support for Metropolitan Racing as like everyone else I have a conflict of interest in wanting a track close to… Read more »

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw John, I who  for twenty years worked and raced in Sydney  not always had City class dogs,then once i moved to the bush and became a converted country boy  life looked a lot better and once i was excepted and become a local  the majority country folk would tell you the only attraction to Wentworth Park was the prize money nothing else ! maybe a move to bush from the inter city could be beneficial to your long term health. LOL

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw John Tracey Bob neither of us nows for sure what the majority of greyhound people who do not race at Wentworth Park dream of but one thing is for sure is that you are not the only export to the country. When there were only 40 Metropolitan Races per year in the metropolitan area there were more than double the number of participants and 68% of them lived in the Metropolitan Area. There is now 104 metropolitan meetings at Wentworth Park alone and the percentage of participants in the Metro area has dropped to 32%. There is also metro racing… Read more »

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw John Tracey Bob also if a country trainer/owner with a single dog raced anywhere in the Metropolitan Area say from Tweed Heads then his car expenses (at Taxation allowance rates) would exceed the current return per starter at Wentworth Park that is currently about ,000. The trip between Tweed Heads and the Metropolitan track no matter where it is will be in the region of 18 hours travel or 36 hours travel for two. There a different award rates for travel in the working sense but it would add to to the trip (if the person regarded him or herself… Read more »

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw John  you can only base your argument, only if you win or run a place ,yes your right it is more competitive which lessen  your chances of o a 100% return !

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw John Tracey Its good to talk about the out of square stuff. I think what you are getting at is the affordability of racing. That is only three of the dogs are getting paid over the average and the other five are not. While the competition is greater with less meetings the starting costs are much lower as well but there is another factor and that is the Association has the potential to promote and there is further sponsorship and a larger crowd per meeting. When the tote betting broadcasts came in the USA the racing associations took a bill… Read more »

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw John I must  say i enjoy the healthy debate  between two old heads of the industry. Your research into the industry is second to none, (still waiting for my copy of your book  lol) John with whats gone down since the Live Baiting Fiasco we need new direction and that wont happen while the old guard  is still trying to hang on and i have measured their performance  on where we are today, This Government is going to present us with a very hard task to move forward  and we need the right professional people in the right… Read more »

spyman
spyman
4 years ago

John Tracey spyman CRAZYCRAW  they cried and howled when HP went!

they all recovered and turned WP into its own celebratory dependence shrine.

so they will get over losing(or surrendering)WP and cherish the new HQ,possibly at RICHMOND.

you don’t know what you have lost,until it’s gone,they say,but humans being what we are,we adapt,we change,we accept,we move on.

and unfortunately,social licence means what ALL the people,and when we cannot come up with a clear reasoning for what we are fighting about,MAJORITY WINS.

spyman
spyman
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw  MILL. LOSS. AM AT A LOSS WHAT ALL THIS IS ABOUT,BUT 6MILL? WHAT HAPPENED HERE?

what have you guys been doing up there?

BOB,please explain….

spyman
spyman
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw  wow john you have some history of involvement. but john,why cant new centers of excellence be even your dream. maybe not right on your doorstep(wherever that is) but 6 virtual CITY TYPE DREAMS of excellence,spread across the state,are better than ONE central track right in the heart of a city being redeveloped for the city life style of today and into the future. gambling in all shapes and forms is frowned upon in this country(and world),but the weakest sections of it ,like grey racing and even horse racing,is no match for the power of a CASINO that atracts… Read more »

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

spyman John Tracey BobWhitelaw NSW has a different landscape to other states due to the development of Casino’s and Casino like poker machine clubs. There are also about 3,000 retail outlets in hotels etc that provided phantom race meetings and who also have facilities for poker machine involvement. Some of these establishments have by themselves a bigger return from gaming than the whole of the NSW Tab pays the Greyhounds for the whole of NSW. When these clubs talk about centres of excellence they are talking in the million development range. The centre of excellence concept in sport comes partly from (is… Read more »

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

spyman John Tracey BobWhitelaw Spyman, It is all on the public record. In 1987 approx the NCA defaulted on its contract with the Trust and the Racecourse Development committee on an approx K progress payment for the Wentworth Park Stadium which at the time they had a full lease of the complex. Their lease was determined and replaced by a licence on restricted areas for usage. The Trust involvement required it to pay back loans which it did but one loan could not be repaid as the building was not complete and they could not get income from it so a deal… Read more »

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

spyman John Tracey BobWhitelaw If after the first of July and  we are still alive, with  what you are saying here should be the way forward . No other structure makes sense !

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

spyman John Tracey BobWhitelaw As for many years we have allowed these b**tards to screw us into the ground with the help of  Governments that bludge on us and now  they want to bludgeon us to death

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

spyman John Tracey CRAZYCRAW Id love someone out  there to send me a copy of a Social Licence?, I have a car ,boat, gun, fishing,and trainers, Licence ,but never seen a Social Licence and what it looks like ! 

spyman
spyman
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw spyman John Tracey CRAZYCRAW  ..lol,hang on there BOB,someone will copy and paste one to you. they can duplicate anything nowadays.

spyman
spyman
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw spyman John Tracey  BOB, aquicky. who runs greyhound racing in NSW? GBOTA or GRNSW?

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

spyman BobWhitelaw John Tracey CRAZYCRAW Bob the use of the term social licence was a bit cheeky but it has existed for more than 15 years particularly in the minerals, mining industry V the environment. The government issues in some cases a document granting an environment clearance document that is a social licence. There are a lot of cases of definitions of social licence on Google. You could argue tht the banks have lost their social licence over misconduct of bankers and that religion groups have lost their social licence over sex abuse of participants etc. Social licences can be abstract for example… Read more »

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw spyman John Tracey Bob it is great to see that you are taking some responsibility on behalf of participants for the mess we are in. This is the first small step of the journey to success. Great use of the royal plural “We”.

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw spyman John Tracey Nice use of the word “We”

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw spyman John Tracey CRAZYCRAW Issued in Mining for clearances to use the land.See  Google.

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

spyman BobWhitelaw John Tracey Good question, no ones really knows ? there’s some from the gbota think they are ! Mr 10% is still there trying to steer the sinking ship, some people never learn and he’s been with both the gbota and grnsw. and look where we are today  not a great recommendation for a new direction if there is ones like him  that are trying to hang on..

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw spyman We are the ones that have that been stood over and robbed  for many years, and we are the only ones that can rebuild our sport, yes John “WE”

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw spyman CRAZYCRAW I’ll say it again show me a copy where it says on the LICENCE, that this a Social Licence ?

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

The problem with Metropolitan Greyhound Racing is that it conducts too many meetings in the metropolitan area. The 104 meetings conducted at Wentworth Park and the larger number of meeting at Richmond, dwarf for example the two “metro meetings for racing in Hong Kong that is a reasonable example to refer to as a dual metro construction. Hong Kong has much fewer race meetings per year. The largest track in Hong Kong is in the sticks similar to Richmond and has a grandstand capacity of 85,000 and stabling for 1,260 horses. The complex is about 10KS away from hotel developments… Read more »

spyman
spyman
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw spyman CRAZYCRAW  aha,and that is its actual beginning in this crazy activists world….mining.

now everyone wants to use it. mining is where it started,and that’s who it belongs to and with….not a greyhound chapter when it suits a pollie.

spyman
spyman
4 years ago

John Tracey  John.

what happens,based on your statement above,between the TAB and the industry,if for arguments sake,the NSW GOVERNMENT forced the eviction of the dogs from WP?

and would a similar situation be advantageous,if we had 6 WP tracks scattered across the state?advantageous to TAB and the industry….surely a new deal could be organised(this time protect us)where both do have a win/win situation.

if 6 new WP centers were purposefully built,the TAB would not be at a disadvantage. would it?

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

spyman John Tracey LOL John when has the Tab been at a disadvantage! if anyone who’s at a disadvantage its been the Greyhounds.

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

spyman John Tracey It would be an interesting legal point. The claim of action would be likely to be between the Government and the TAB. The licence is between the Wentworth Park trust and the Greyhounds not the Government but if the Government revoked the trust then the greyhound would have a licence with the trust that was not effective. The same situation would occur as did when the float arrangements were made and the Newcastle track closed down causing its race dates to be allocated elsewhere. My guess would be that the decision on where the Metro Race dates were… Read more »

John Tracey
John Tracey
4 years ago

BobWhitelaw spyman John Tracey The Racing agreements favoured the greyhounds up until the early stages of the TAB when the interstate betting off course came on line in about 1968. Since then the greyhounds have been on a slide in NSW compared to Victoria.

BobWhitelaw
BobWhitelaw
4 years ago

John Tracey BobWhitelaw spyman Well  John just another example  of how Greyhound racing has been Mismanaged here in NSW and the Select Committee had exposed that  with their inquiry findings and i have no regrets in exposing the problems that was threatening our future existence as far as wagering and just reward for the product we supply to the TAB. John as you know it was the live Baiting issue that has brought  our industry to its knees around Australia., but some would like to blame the GAG and Select Committee for where we are today and i for one have a… Read more »

Trevor  H
Trevor H
4 years ago

John Tracey What happened to Panthers Group proposal to develop W.Park and in return build a new racing complex in western Sydney