By Mike Hill
NORTHERN Rivers owners and trainers said \’goodbye\’ to their old Grafton track in late August.
Early next year, they\’ll be racing on a completely new track – the centrepiece of the club\’s long awaited $4.2 million redevelopment program.
\”It\’ll be the safest track in NSW and one of the safest in the nation,\” said Grafton club president John Corrigan.
Officials began packing up after the final meeting at the track late last month.
Corrigan said he expected the club to reopen at its centre of excellence in mid-March next year.
\”That\’s the plan and that\’s what we\’re hoping will happen,\” he said.
\”Meetings we would normally have run will now be shared by neighbouring clubs Lismore and Casino.
\”We\’re anticipating a March 13 re-launch next year.\”
Corrigan said the club had two weeks to clear out anything it needed from the complex.
\”We\’ve sold things like the kennels, the air conditioning etc, and they need to be removed,\” he said.
\”After that the demolition work will start and take about three weeks.\”
Ground work on the actual track redevelopment is expected to start in early October.
\”We are very much looking forward to the new complex – it will be huge for the industry in the Northern Rivers,\” Corrigan said.
\”The new track will be six metres wide and racing will be over 360 metres, 450 metres and 650 metres.\”
He said track designers had provided 60-metre transitions into and out of the turns which would reduce injuries and allow for safer and cleaner racing.
In an earlier statement, Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis said the project, as well as providing a new track, would include the installation of safety railing, upgraded LED lighting, a new irrigation system and kennels complex.
\”We are honouring a commitment to greyhound racing participants and this investment in the Grafton facility will ensure the sustainability of the industry in the Clarence Valley and wider region well into the future,\” Mr Gulaptis said.
\”This is a stamp of confidence in the greyhound racing industry in the Clarence Valley.\”
Greyhound Racing NSW Chief Executive Tony Mestrov said the new project would ensure the growth of greyhound racing in the region, while at the same time ensuring the welfare of greyhounds and the sustainability of the sport.