Negotiations are taking place this week in a bid to re-open Newbridge Greyhound Stadium after its recent closure rocked the greyhound industry and the local economy.
Last weekend marked the end of an era when the last race meetings were held on Friday and Saturday night at the Kildare track under the current ownership. Speculation was rife that a new owner from Nottingham was in the wings ready to take over.
Local bookmaker, Daragh Fitzpatrick confirmed the future may not be so bleak.
“I am aware that there are negotiations taking place this week with Bord Na gCon and interested parties at the track. Hopefully as a result of those negotiations, the track will re-open in the short term,” he said.
Bord Na gCon declined to comment on developments as it said the Newbridge track was a private stadium. Local trainers are hopefull the track won’t stay closed for too long.
Former chairman of the Irish Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association, John Dore said it was sad day. He pointed out he was the last trainer to leave the track on Saturday night. The Caragh trainer said he was hopeful of a resolution.
“Look, if they got E1,000 a week to lease it out there would be a queue of lads lining up to take it over,” he said.
He said he feared that many trainers might pull out of the business if the track didn’t re-open, especially some of the older trainers as they didn’t want to travel to Mulingar or Dublin to race their dogs every week.
“Everybody wants to see it re-opening. It’s a fantastic facility. I imagine it will [re-open] if they put a reasonable lease price on it,” he remarked.
Rathangan trainer, John O’Loughlin who won the final race on track closure night, stressed: “I hope it won’t be the final race ever at the track.”
The stadium employs four full time staff, who are facing redundancies. The directors of the company as of 2009 were Dermot Cox (who had the majority of the shares at 51 percent), J Kearns, O Lawler, T Deasey, T Cox, and David Cox.
Last weekend, racing enthusiasts attending the meetings were greeted by a letter in the racecard from Chairman Dermot Cox and the Board of Directors. It stated they would like to place on record their sincere thanks to all their loyal patrons, staff, dog owners, trainers, bookmakers, and sponsors and all who have helped in any way with their support of Newbridge Greyhound Stadium over the past many decades. It said; “It is with much soul-searching and sadness that the Directors of the Track were forced by economic circumstances to reluctantly take the decision to close the stadium. The Directors, in conjunction with Bord Na gCon, will endeavour to do their best to hopefully secure a new promoter in order to restructure and re-open the Stadium in the not too distant future.”