Massachusetts' Statewide ban on greyhound racing brought an era to a close at Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park.
Visit Rynham Park during the week and there isn’t a line to be found. The once-bustling track used to boast 1,100 dogs and more than 50 kennels. In 1971, it became the first greyhound track in the country to hold races seven days a week.
But now Rynham is seeking a return to its dog racing days.
Freddy Parziale goes to Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park six days a week, where he spends several hours looking over parimutuel racing forms and socializing.
"I used to be a dog man when they had racing, but I've been following the horses since they closed," Parziale said during an interview. Massachusetts voters in a statewide referendum outlawed dog races as of Jan. 1, 2010. Since then the track has been used only for simulcast parimutuel racing. Parziale sat at a table on the edge of the room that overlooks the former dog track.
Tom Carney, nephew of the owner of Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park, talks about the proposed slots parlor
The dirt dog track on the other side of the window from Parziale is tired-looking. A dilapidated scoreboard hangs along one side of the field.
There's a restaurant with rich-looking wood panels overlooking another side of the track that was so popular during the 1980s it took three months to get a reservation, as well as a dance club. But the lights are off and the heat turned down
Carney is teaming with Greenwood Racing of Philadelphia in a proposal to open a slots casino at the track. Greenwood's flagship casino is in Philadelphia. They are proposing a 175,000-square-foot casino on a 100-acre site along Route 138 that's 1.5 miles from Interstate 495.
The proposal is one of three the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will consider when it awards the sole slots-only casino license. The decision is expected in March.
|With dog racing now outlawed in Massachusetts, |
Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park is used for simulcast betting
The Carney-Greenwood partnership says it can have a temporary slots casino operating in six or seven months by converting the clubhouse, restaurant and dance club. Simulcasting of races would continue.
Then it will tear down the grandstand overlooking the track and build a casino for 1,250 slots machines. The project will take up some of the land on which the former track sits.
They estimate about 1,400 temporary construction jobs and then about 1,778 permanent jobs.
Raynham voters passed the proposal with 86 percent support in a referendum vote on Aug. 13.
Carney and his family's racetrack are institutions in Raynham and southeast Massachusetts.
The 82-year-old patriarch started in the business as a lead-boy when he was 14, making $4 a night and $24 a week when school teachers were only making $18 to $20 a week, he said.
The racetrack opened in the early 1940s with the blessing of the state which, like now, wanted to raise tax revenues and put people to work.
The Wonderland dog track in Revere and another in Taunton were already in operation. The Carney family was a minority partner in the tracks.
"I really believe it's going to be the same infusion of jobs and money for the commonwealth," George Carney said.
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