Grace Grace gives turf club project big tick
RACING Minister Grace Grace has thrown her support behind Ipswich Turf Club's long desired redevelopment plans in a massive boost to racing in the city.
The turf club is seeking around $14 million to upgrade facilities, and relocate the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club to the confines of its Bundamba base with a one-turn track.
The project will not only benefit the welfare of greyhounds, which suffer far less injuries on a one-turn track than they do on the two-turn track which is currently in place in Ipswich, but will also make the turf club a dual-code hub.
Over $100 million in racing infrastructure funds are in the kitty and Ms Grace, who has toured the facilities in Ipswich with turf club general manager Brett Kitching, is backing the project.
"Ipswich has always been a strong racing town and racegoers deserve facilities that reflect its status as one of Queensland's main racing hubs," Ms Grace said.
"I'm very excited by this proposal and I'll ensure it's a priority infrastructure project for the new Racing Queensland Board.
"It has the potential to improve both clubs' financial security, while delivering an important boost to the Ipswich economy and it will also ensure animal welfare is front and centre.
"I expect Racing Queensland to work with both clubs and other stakeholders to develop a clear timetable, so that this project can be delivered as soon as possible."
Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard has discussed the project with Mr Kitching and met with Ipswich Greyhound Racing manager Merv Page where he showed her the outdated facilities the club has and the issues the two-turn track can cause.
"So I wrote to the Minister (Grace Grace) and she came up and met with Brett and the board," she said.
"There is no doubt that the whole proposal to move greyhound racing to the turf club has merit.
"Grace has said she is going to make the proposal one of the priority infrastructure projects to be considered by the new Racing Queensland board, including the relevant stakeholders like the turf club obviously.
"The Minister is very supportive of the proposal and that will help.
"Having a proper venue for the greyhounds will prevent injuries.
"The kennels now at the greyhound track are not up to the standard people are expecting."
A Racing Queensland spokesperson said the project would be considered.
"No commitment has been made from Racing Queensland regarding this project however it will be given consideration as part of the usual project approval process," the spokesperson said.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said he was fully supporting the turf club's plans.
"That is what we need to make the best use of the facility," he said.
"We have moved on to the multi-sporting facilities. Now it is time for multi-racing facilities. It makes sense. We can make it the number one sporting attraction in the country."
Blair MP Shayne Neumann also agrees with the move and has spoken in federal parliament about the issue.
He said the welfare of the greyhounds was a major factor in his support, but also said the Ipswich Turf Club deserved upgrades.
"I have always supported it because I think the Ipswich Turf Club is a really important part of the infrastructure of Ipswich," he said.
"It is a great venue, a great sport and it brings a huge amount of money into the Ipswich economy. We can make that particular facility a multi-sport facility and I think that is great for Ipswich."