Blow to greyhound racing as Drumbo Park track shuts after 10 years
THE Drumbo Park greyhound stadium in Lisburn has closed with immediate effect, impacting its 14 full-time and 30 part-time staff.
The directors confirmed the move on Friday morning, citing a number of factors which mean the business is no longer sustainable after 10 years.
They have blamed a shortage of greyhounds to provide a full race programme, the impact of online gaming on live racing and the north’s restrictive licensing laws, which prevent the sale of alcohol at the track on a Sunday.
And unlike greyhound racetracks in the Republic, Drumbo Park received no government funding.
The Drumbo Park track has been operating since summer 2008, when a triumvirate of ex-Lisburn Distillery directors, John McCollum, Michael McAdam and Tommy Anderson, invested almost £3 million to enhance the former sporting complex at Ballyskeagh Road.
Drumbo Park was billed as "Northern Ireland's new night out", and in its early days four-figure crowds and up to 300 diners poured into the track for the weekly cards, and initially it was a vibrant mixture of sport, business and entertainment.
But punter and guest numbers have been falling away in recent years, and despite the directors investing substantial resources in the last two years in an effort to turn the business around, the decision has been taken that it was no longer viable.
The company's latest set of accounts filed at Companies House showed that the business was running at a deficit of more than £1 million.
"We would like to thank the staff, customers and dog owners for their support and dedication over the past decade," the directors said.
Until Drumbo Park's opening in 2008, greyhound racing had been absent in Lisburn since the demise of the old Ballyskeagh in October 2005, which followed the closures of Dungannon's Oaks Park and Belfast's Celtic Park and Dunmore Stadium, which had staged Irish greyhound racing since the 1920s.
Drumbo's closure leaves Brandywell in Derry as the last remaining bastion for the north's doggie men.