HAROLD’S CROSS STADIUM, one of Dublin’s two greyhound racing tracks, has been closed with immediate effect.
The iconic venue, which first opened in 1928, will now be sold as part of the Irish Greyhound Board’s strategy to reduce its multi-million euro debt.
The future of Harold’s Cross had been under threat since 2014 when a report commissioned by the Government recommended that it be sold and the money used to address the IGB’s debts from the construction of Limerick Stadium, which currently stand at €20.3 million.
But there has been significant opposition to the move, with planned protests by dog owners and breeders forcing two race meetings at Shelbourne Park to be cancelled last week.
“IGB has taken the decision to bring forward the closure of the stadium and its sale,” a statement said on Monday.
“The decision to close Harold’s Cross with immediate effect has been taken so that IGB can move forward with creating a viable future for the industry without delay.
The uncertainty surrounding the future of Harold’s Cross has been a distraction for the business.
The number of race meetings at Shelbourne Park is now set to double to four per week, while the IGB have promised to offer redeployment to all 12 staff affected by the closure of Harold’s Cross.
“IGB acknowledges the long and proud tradition of greyhound racing at Harold’s Cross and realises the unavoidable closure will be regretted by its many patrons in the greyhound industry, who will be accommodated in Shelbourne Park.
“IGB will work to promote Shelbourne Park in every way possible to ensure its success. The Harold’s Cross closure will avoid the dilution of scarce resources across two locations and makes long term strategic sense from a logistical, financial and organisational perspective.
“Stadia are capital intensive and require ongoing investment. Put simply, IGB has not been in a position recently to invest in the future of Shelbourne Park, the industry’s flagship venue.
“This is a step in the creation of a long term viable future for a very important traditional entertainment and sports activity in Ireland providing many jobs in the greyhound industry.”
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