Not less than a month after Greyhound Racing Victoria announced an ambitious plan to place a small tight two turn track inside the newly redeveloped one turn track at Geelong’s Beckley Park, State Lara MP John Eren has lit a fire under the plans by proposing more community use of the land including a soccer field.
Under Eren’s revamped plans, the interior of the track would be used as a playing field for soccer and other recreational community activities.
While the field may just fit inside the two turn track, its inclusion would scuttle GRV plans for a large dam to service water needs for the two tracks, which was to built in the track interior.
Geelong greyhound racing track has long had issues maintaining the water needs for just the one turn track, often producing a highly variable and at times dangerous racing and trialling surface.
Under the GRV’s plans to build two tracks on the one site, those water needs would increase dramatically and without the dam to help service those needs, any proposal for a two turn track is essentially “dead in the water”.
Eren’s plan has apparently received support from Geelong Council, and does have precedent as Wentworth Park has a soccer ground in its interior, and was used by NRL team The Roosters as a training ground.
And on the surface of it the plan has much merit.
Geelong Greyhound Racing Club is not long out of administration by Greyhound Racing Victoria, and has struggled financially despite the regular Saturday Markets held there on weekends.
Any proposal to increase community use of Beckley Park, and bring in extra revenue to the greyhound club from outside the racing industry is likely to receive widespread community and government support, and would be a much more sensible business decision in terms of long-term viability than the addition of a tight two greyhound track, which will only service users who in all likelihood already use the Geelong one turn track.
Greyhound Racing Victoria may now rue the missed opportunity to build a large spacious two turn track at Warrnambool when it was redeveloped 12 months ago.
At several meetings with local greyhound industry participants during the planning stages for the new Warrnambool track, the lack of a two turn track for greyhound racing west of Melbourne was raised repeatedly, but no effort was ever made to entertain the idea of building a two turn track in place of the existing one turn track.