Toowoomba under consideration for greyhound return

Col Byers (left) and Mark Saal inspect the former Toowoomba Showgrounds greyhound track this week.
Col Byers (left) and Mark Saal inspect the former Toowoomba Showgrounds greyhound track this week. Glen McCullouch

ALMOST 13 years are being controversially dumped as a racing venue, Toowoomba is back in the running to be part of a new direction for the Queensland greyhound industry.

The former Toowoomba Showgrounds greyhound complex is being considered for re-entry on to Queensland's TAB racing circuit.

A decision on the re-opening or construction of Queensland's next greyhound racing facility is expected after the imminent announcement of a three-person greyhound board.

The board will be responsible for matters including race programs, prize money distribution and the daily running of the industry.

Racing Queensland chairman Kevin Dixon confirmed Toowoomba is on a shortlist to fill a current industry void.

Only two TAB tracks - Albion Park and Ipswich - presently operate in South East Queensland following the closure of the "one-turn" Parklands circuit in 2008.

Investigations are continuing into the possible location of a new greyhound complex in the south-east corner.

In the meantime, Toowoomba is high on the list of racing options. The Gatton Showgrounds have already been ruled out as a contender.

"There are a lot of varying opinions amongst stakeholders," Dixon said.

"We've been listening to their input and the options range from spending money on a new track through to renovating or restoring a facility.

"Toowoomba fits into that category and we've done some work on the possibility of racing returning to its former showgrounds site.

"The new greyhound board will come into place in coming weeks. It will have passed to it what the options are and what money is available.

"The board members will then have to consider what benefits each option offers and what the negatives are.

"It's a matter then of what venue offers the most benefits and what can be afforded.

"At the end of the day, greyhound people have to be on board with the final decision.

"But I have a feeling whatever the final answer is, it will not be a single answer."

Dixon said a plus for racing returning to Toowoomba would be its one-turn design.

Industry members are lobbying strongly for the return of a one-turn track to Queensland greyhound racing.

Being a one-turn track definitely throws Toowoomba into the mix," Dixon said.

A downside to the Toowoomba option is the venue is not owned by Racing Queensland.

"For racing to return to Toowoomba, an arrangement would have to be reached with the landlord which in this case is the show society," Dixon said.

CEO Damon Phillips said the Royal Agricultural Society will consider any proposal for greyhounds to return to the showgrounds.

Long-time Toowoomba greyhound racing participants Col Byers and Mark Saal said racing in Toowoomba could be up and running within three months of it being approved.

"Bevan Williamson, who is a consultant to Racing Queensland, travelled to Toowoomba with two other representatives - Damian Raedler and Darryl Reid - and said they were very impressed with the first-class facilities still here," Byers said.

Saal believes a return of racing to Toowoomba would be widely applauded in the industry. "It is the only option for a track to be up and running in the short term," Saal said.

Topics:  greyhound racing showgrounds toowoomba

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