MEC Won't Renew Lease of Oregon Dog Track

Magna Entertainment Corp. won't renew its lease of Multnomah Greyhound Park in Oregon when it expires Dec. 31, the company said in a Dec. 23 press release.

MEC also leases Portland Meadows in Oregon. Operations there will continue as usual, the company said.

MEC purchased the operating rights of Multnomah in October 2001. Since that time, the Oregon legislature has authorized a 20% increase in the number of video lottery terminals at restaurants and taverns, Indian gaming has continued to grab pari-mutuel market share, and account wagering has cut into business at off-track betting parlors, the company said.

"We entered the Oregon market three years ago with the expectation that we could help the Oregon racing industry achieve substantially improved operating results," MEC president Jim McAlpine said in the release. "Since that time, however, the competitive pressures on the racing industry have continued to mount. Unfortunately, at this point we don't believe the Oregon industry can support both Greyhound racing and horse racing.

"We anticipate that by closing Multnomah and focusing the industry's resources and energy on Portland Meadows, we can help bring about enough change to make Oregon's horse racing industry economically viable."

Multnomah and Portland Meadows are both located in the Portland area in the northwest part of the state. Oregon also has a circuit of fairs that offer horse racing in the summer.

Chris Dragone, general manager of the dog track, said MEC had no alternative given competition from other forms of gambling. "We are committed, however, to acting in a responsible manner as we phase out Greyhound racing," he said. "We will continue to work with the Oregon Greyhound Association to keep their adoption kennel open until all of the currently retired Oregon Greyhounds have found a home."

Multnomah, the only dog track in Oregon, can accommodate about 18,000 patrons and used to be a major draw. Its record handle of $1,055,000 was recorded in 1991. Its record attendance for an evening performance was 35,000 in 1933, the year the track opened, while its record attendance for a matinee was 10,544 in 1989.

In 2004, Multnomah was open for live racing from early May through early October.