Anger as Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium is shut down to clear debt
It has been an iconic Dublin sports venue for almost a century, but punters have enjoyed their final dog race at Harold's Cross Greyhound Stadium.
The Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) yesterday announced the closure of the stadium with immediate effect.
It confirmed all pending race meetings, including an 11-race, 66-dog event due to take place today, would not go ahead.
Local businesses have reacted with sadness to the news.
The Harold's Cross Village Community Council said it had been "an integral part of the fabric of the village" since 1928.
"The buzz and business activity generated in the village every Tuesday and Friday will be sorely missed.
"The community is saddened that the progress made in building a stronger, more vibrant community in recent years should be jeopardised by this sudden closure," community spokesperson Paula Russell said.
The stadium could now be sold to a developer.
The decision to close followed years of speculation surrounding the future of the venue, in light of the development of a new stadium in Limerick, which cost €21m on completion in 2011, saddling the IGB with debt.
The Indecon Report, commissioned in 2014 by Government and accepted by the board of the IGB, recommended the sale of the Harold's Cross venue to reduce debt levels.
A spokesperson told the Herald that the IGB would be seeking to get "maximum value" for the asset.
"Obviously the value of the site depends on zoning, the market and whatever planning can be achieved," he said.
Consultancy firm Savills has been hired to provide strategic property advice around the future sale of the stadium.
The decision to close the venue has caused anger in Irish greyhound racing.
The Dublin Greyhound Owners & Breeders Association (DGOBA) has been protesting against the plan ever since it was first mooted.
Alan Redmond, a member of that group and a director of Harold's Cross Stadium, hit out at the decision and compared it to a lockout for staff.
"The IGB have chained up the gate and brought in new security - we understand there was someone on duty last night.
"If the stadium is locked, then everyone is locked out of their jobs," Mr Redmond said, speaking on RTE's Liveline.
However a spokesman for the IGB said all of the staff would be offered positions in Shelbourne Park and dismissed the idea of a lockout.
"That's absolutely not the case. Everybody employed at Harold's Cross will be redeployed," he said.
A number of people gathered outside the padlocked gates yesterday to express their anger.
"It's the greyhound stadium for ordinary Dubliners," Paul White (47), a member of DGOBA, said.