ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Speculation has begun amid a new chapter for the oldest operating greyhound track in the world. You can still go to Derby Lane for the poker room or simulcast betting, but after a 95-year run, greyhound dog racing is officially over.
The final race was Sunday and now many want to know what the future holds.
Feelings are conflicted surrounding the dog races ending, but one thing is certain, it’s impacting local businesses.
JJ’s Market and Deli across the street from Derby Lane said they’re known for their eclectic selection of food, wine and beer. Chief Wine Officer David Borkan said their small business is struggling.
“COVID has just beat us to death,” Borkan said.
Borkan went on to say the dog races ending is going to be another hit.
“We’re going to see an impact on business because it’s going to cut down on traffic,” Borkan said.
“I feel very sad about the races ending,” said Dan, who didn’t want to give his last name. Dan lives in St. Pete and went to play poker at Derby Lane on Monday.
He’s worried about what the move means for the future of gambling.
“What’s next? You’ve opened ‘Pandoras Box’, now that dog racing is banned, what’s to say they don’t go after horse racing now?” Dan said.
Meanwhile, Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard is happy about the change.
“I think it’s a good thing! I never thought dog racing was very nice to the dogs,” Gerard said.
Derby Lane Marketing Director Alexis Winning said there are only three remaining states where dog racing is legal. Two years ago, Florida Amendment 13 was approved to ban wagering on dog races.
8 On Your Side asked Winning if there are plans to develop the land or if they are looking to sell.
They weren’t available to go on camera but sent 8 On Your Side a statement, saying, “Currently, there are no plans to develop or sell the property.”
“Personally, I’ve always imagined a Rays stadium right there,” Commissioner Gerard told McLarty.
She’s not alone.
One thing the county commissioner, gambling customer and business all agree on is that they want to see the land go to commercial use related to sports.
“It would be nice to see it redeveloped into something related to sports,” Dan said.
“I want to see a [Rays] baseball stadium there, that would be my druthers,” Borkan said.
Winning said a majority of the dogs that have raced at Derby Lane have been adopted.