Greyhounds WA CEO David Hobbs tonight confirmed to ARG that, “we have locked in a CBD site for WA greyhound racing for 60 years. We believe you need a CBD presence to attract sponsorship and we have signed five new sponsors who are committed to the new Cannington for the long haul.”
“The new track will also provide conference facilities for trade shows and the like. With 8,000 businesses within our shire, it’s another revenue stream for us to utilise.”
Greyhounds WA were faced with the prospect of not having a home for greyhound racing, as their current lease was due to expire in July 2015, but the new agreement should see greyhound racing at the new Cannington track by January 2016.
The migration plan will involve a six month period where Northam and Mandurah will absorb the WA greyhound racing schedule. Hobbs confirmed that will involve a significant upgrade of Mandurah greyhound track to cope with the increased racing demands.
“RWWA has committed two million dollars for that contingency to upgrade Mandurah to cater for trialling and racing in that area. We own Mandurah, which is valued at eight million dollars, so these upgrades will increase the value of that asset, which is another positive for the local industry.”
But the plan is not without its own hurdles.
“We are now waiting and should know within next few weeks about the grant of $6.3 million we have requested. This grant will give us a restaurant and grandstand for 700-800 people. As well as a conference centre etc.”
Hobbs explained the long process involved to reach the point where they now are, “this project been ongoing for nine years. My tenure as the new CEO has been four months, and the priority has been to get the new Cannington up and running. When we first went to state government is was a $31.2 million project and it didn’t get off the ground.”
That initial setback did not deter Hobbs and his board. They set about redesigning the proposal and reducing costs.
“We did a reshape of how the project would look and cut the costs to $21.3 million. We received a commitment for nine million dollars from RWWA, in addition to the two million dollar contingency for the short fall between old and new Cannington.”
“We have already got $15 million of the $21.3 million required. This $15 million will build us a track that is racing and television ready, which was stage two of the project. Stage three is the building of a grandstand to cater for 700-800 racegoers, which will take place once the grant is finalised.”
“History shows that Cannington is the most patronised racetrack in Australia. We generate $78 million off course and $8.5 million on course and we are renowned for being fast, fun, affordable. I see greyhound racing as the next big thing for the XY generation because it’s fast and easy.”
The agreement for the new track will ensure Cannington is again well positioned to be Australia’s most successful metropolitan greyhound racing track.
“We have invested in Cannington for over 40 years and the name Cannington is synonymous with greyhounds. This new deal is sensational for the industry. We will be paying a third of the rent for a dedicated site consisting of all the mod cons.”
“The important thing is that this injects confidence back into the greyhound racing industry. Now owners, breeders and trainers are put at ease. With the ownership of Mandurah and the new deat at Cannington, we are in a great position to see significant expansion of greyhound racing in WA over the next 10 years.”
“This has been a lot of work from people that have sat in the seat over the last nine years. I want to acknowledge David Simonetti, who was the previous CEO and I also want to thank the efforts of the current and past board members and the efforts of the collective group. Without the efforts of a dedicated team, this project wouldn’t have got where it has.”
In a year that has seen plenty of negative press for the greyhound industry in Australia, this is a significant boost for all participants. Nine years of dedicated efforts has resulted in a future that is far brighter for those in WA.