In an all out bid to hold the wolf (Betfair, corporate bookmakers and rival broadcasters) from the door Tabcorp, are running around the country willy-nilly signing racetracks up under exclusive sponsorship and sole Sky Channel broadcast agreements.
Bouyed by the success of the Melton Tabcorp Park development in association with Harness Racing Victoria, Tabcorp just yesterday signed on with the NSW Harness Racing Council for a 15 year agreement at Menangle Park that will see the site upgraded in time to host the 2010 InterDominion Grand Final.
According to reports the track will be renamed Tabcorp Park Menangle and will be a sister track to Tabcorp Park Melton which has become the premier harness racing track in Victoria. Part of the deal is that Tabcorp reserve exclusive media rights to showcase Sydney harness racing on Sky Racing under the guise of a “commitment to harness racing”.
That announcemment should have set alarm bells ringing in the greyhound racing world and confirmation came tonight when Tabcorp's own Sky Channel hosts told their audience to tune in tomorrow night at The Meadows for a major announcement about the future of greyhound racing.
Well Australian Racing Greyhound believe the reality is somewhat less the the whole future of greyhound racing but nonetheless worthy of our attention.
Tomorrow night at The Meadows meeting, which will also host the running of the Group 2 AWM Distance Championship, GRV Chair Jan Wilson will confirm that Tabcorp have entered in to a similar deal with the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association's (MGRA) The Meadows track to secure exclusive naming rights, but more importantly control over broadcasting rights from the venue.
While The Meadows does hold some symbiotic realtionship with Melton's Tabcorp Park, it remains to be seen if the Broadmeadows venue will be known as The Tabcorp Meadows.
More importantly it raises the spectre of the cash strapped NSW NCA rolling over with their Newcastle based Birmingham Gardens racetrack known as The Gardens.
The NSW National Coursing Assocaition is a heavily leveraged private greyhound racing association that once shared metropolitan racing in NSW with the GBOTA and Wentworth Park and controlled racing at several other tracks. But after borrowing heavily to build the Sandown replica “The Gardens” track at Newcastle, had to surrender all rights to hold city racing.
Tomorrow, the NSW NCA have a rare opportunity to race on a Saturday with TAB coverage during the running of their Laurie Healion Memorial maiden series. Is it any conincidence that a Tabcorp subsidiary would pump up a big announcement on a day that both The Meadows and The Gardens are enjoying nationwide Sky Channel coverage?
Well at this stage, just maybe. But if we're on the money about The Meadows jumping on the Tabcorp cash bonanza free for all the surely The Gardens will offer some attractive opportunites to both The Gardens and the NSW NCA.