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The logo of Wonderland Greyhound Park.
Wonderland Greyhound Park is a greyhound racing track located in Reveremarker, Massachusettsmarker owned by the Westwood Group. It is constructed on the site of the former Wonderland Amusement Park. Wonderland opened on June 12, 1935 and formerly offered 361 performances during its 100-day, April to September racing period. As a result of a state-wide ban on dog racing which will take effect on January 1, 2010, the track currently only offers simulcast.

Wonderland has formed a partnership with neighboring horse track Suffolk Downsmarker to build a casino on the site, but this plan also allows the option of the track being redeveloped for commercial or mixed uses.

History

With the legalization of Parimutuel betting by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1934, the idea of Wonderland Greyhound Park was made a possibility. The track was constructed on the site of the former Wonderland Amusement Park in Reveremarker, which had been converted from an amusement park to a bicycle track after the parks close in 1911.

The opening night of Wonderland Greyhound Park took place on June 12, 1935 and was attended by an estimated 5,000 people. Pansy Walker won the first-ever greyhound race in the park while $58,462 was wagered for the first evening. By July 21, after 17 races, the money wagered topped $100,000, never dropping below the figure for the duration of the park's 100 night inaugural season.

The Westwood Group, headed by restaurateur Charles Sarkis and insurer James Kelley purchased the track in 1977 from Boston businessman Joe Linsey; new management along with the 1978 omnibus racing bill were economically beneficial as Wonderland's offerings began to expand. Under the leadership of the Westwood Group, the park made a total of four handles of over 1 million dollars; they occurred on August 29, 1981 ($1,004,826), May 5, 1983 ($1,004,740), August 11, 1984 ($1,086,554) and April 30, 1988 ($1,025,928).

The best year for the track according to Sarkis was in 1991, but he claims that business started to taper off as full service casinos were built in Connecticutmarker and Rhode Islandmarker, along with the lottery which started "nibbling at gamblers' available dollars".

Wonderland experienced legal issues when the City of Revere attempted to collect overdue taxes and utility bills. The track owed over two years' worth of back taxes and utility bills to the city, which threatened Wonderland with foreclosure if it failed to pay. A lien had been placed on the property in June 2007, and revocation hearings for its annual liquor and parking licenses were planned. The bill, totaling $752,301, was finally paid in a lump sum in October 2008. A similar situation also occurred in 1994, when Wonderland's owners owed over $1.5 million in back taxes.

Currently, Wonderland Greyhound Park offers 361 performances during its 100-day, April to September racing season. Races on cold days are made possible through the use of over of underground piping which heats the racetrack. In addition, the park features year round simulcast which allows for patrons to bet on races at other tracks.

Future

Voters of the commonwealth passed the Massachusetts Greyhound Protection Act through a referendum held on November 4, 2008 which bans greyhound racing statewide as of January 1, 2010. As a result, live races ended at the park on September 18, 2009.

Casino

Casino gambling is currently against the law in Massachusetts and governor Deval Patrick's idea of introducing it to the state failed to make it through the legislature in 2007. Cited as the key to keep Wonderland open, casino gambling was proposed for the site. On August 13, 2008, a nearly two year discussion ended with Richard Fields, the principal owner of the Suffolk Downsmarker horse track in East Boston, Massachusettsmarker. A partnership with Wonderland was formed which strengthened their position to build a resort-style casino at Suffolk Downs which had been a lead contender to receive one of Patrick's three planned casino licenses in the state. Suffolk Downs would then share the license with Wonderland. The deal allows Suffolk Downs to buy Wonderland, which it would then redevelop for commercial or mixed uses.

Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore Dimasi, however, an opponent of casinos, said through an aide that he has not changed his opinion and would presumably urge the Massachusetts legislature to not allow casino gambling in the state. The Patrick administration announced that it was not currently focused on slots at the tracks or casinos, but that Patrick was "concerned about any job losses from any companies" and pledged to begin planning ways to assist or retrain track workers.

References

External links




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