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Hinsdale Greyhound Race Track Closes Down
By John Distaso
After 51 seasons as a harness and dog racing facility, Hinsdale Greyhound Park announced today it has “ceased operations and surrendered its pari-mutuel license to state regulators.”
Track attorney John J. Sullivan told UnionLeader.com a bankruptcy filing was made in U.S. Bankruptcy Court this afternoon and that track officials met with officials of the Attorney General’s Office this morning to turn in the track’s pari-mutuel license.
“It’s a sad day for racing in New Hampshire,” said 40-year state Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission Chairman Timothy J. “Ted" Connors. “That’s why we need video slot machines to keep these tracks going.”
Joseph E. Sullivan III, the track’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “Unfortunately, our operating results have, for some time, reflected what’s happening in the economy and in the gaming business nationally.
“Business was not good, but when gas prices spiked earlier this year, things went from bad to worse,” he said. “People simply have less money to wager in New Hampshire and nationally. We have seen significant wagering declines from the Connecticut casinos to Las Vegas. Regrettably, our business has followed these trends, and our efforts to attract investors or a buyer were in the end unsuccessful.”
Joseph Sullivan’s statement said the track opened in 1958 as a seasonal harness horse racing track and added greyhound racing in 1973. Harness racing was eliminated in 1985 and greyhound racing was cut back to 50 days in 2008 “due to falling attendance,” the statement said.
“While all employees will be paid in full, Hinsdale Greyhound Park’s closing means the loss of jobs for 19 full time and 30 part time employees and the loss of tax revenue” to the state and Town of Hinsdale, the statement said.
Track officials said that in October, after the end of the 2008 racing season, the track gave all the greyhounds on the premises to several independent non-profits, including a local group, Fast Friends.
Attorney John Sullivan said there were about 100 greyhounds on the premises.The closing of Hinsdale leaves two operating greyhound track in the state, at Seabrook and Belmont. The state’s lone horse track is at Rockingham Park in Salem.
Rockingham Park officials are pushing a plan to bring 3,000 video slot machines to its facility, while some lawmakers have been calling for 1,000 machines each at the state’s dog tracks.
Anti-greyhound racing forces plan to file legislation this year to ban live greyhound racing in the state. Massachusetts voters banned greyhound racing in a November referendum. Attorney John Sullivan said Joseph Sullivan has owned the track since 1984 and was “very much saddened and disappointed” by the need to close.
“It’s been a huge part of his life interacting with employees and patrons,” John Sullivan said. “This is the last thing he wanted to have happen.”
Attorney Sullivan said that a recently as last week, track officials were in talks with prospective buyers in the hope of keeping the track operating.
“But at the end of last week, we concluded we didn’t have anybody to step up and put money in to keep us operating,” attorney Sullivan said.
Connors said he knew the track was struggling but had last heard that track officials were trying to find buyers. He said he was surprised to be notified of the closing today.
Originally published on UnionLeader.com.
For more information, visit Grey2KUSA, Adopt-A-Greyhound, and more links.
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