Tucson Greyhound Park shuts down after decades

The Tucson Greyhound Park closed its doors forever on Saturday, June 18.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:14 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson Greyhound Park closed its doors forever on Saturday, June 18.

Live racing ended at the 60-acre facility more than six years ago, and it has only hosted simulcast events since.

Arizona banned live dog racing in May 2016, but allowed tracks to collect money from off-track betting.

The track, who opened in 1944, was dealt another blow in 2018, when the city council refused a request to let the Midtown Tavern host off-track betting for the park.

A lot of people asked why did it took long, even after allegations of the mistreatment of the dogs.

“It’s good,” said Susan Via. “It’s like putting the stake through the heart of the monster.”

Via worked 20 years to get the doors shuttered.

“It was a horrible place of untold suffering for thousands of dogs,” she said. “The dogs were kenneled up to 23 hours a day, which is horrible.”

In the early 2000s, a group of citizens, vets, and politicans formed a group with the intent of shutting down the park. With the support of those politicians, and the community, live racing was banned in 2016.

“We came up with the idea of an initiative,” Via said. “Because you only had to get enough signatures in a very small place South Tucson, because that’s the city where the track was. We succeeded.”

When the initiative passed, community support swelled to ban live dog racing. Arizona lawmakers passed a bill and it signed by the governor, nding live dog racing in Arizona.

“I’ve had this cap permanently displayed on my desk ever since for the work I was proud to have taken part in,” said Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik.

Still, the track stayed open for another six years for off-track betting, betting on dog racing in other states.

By the end of this year, there will be only two tracks open nationwide. That is not enough to sustain the Tucson facility

“So this is a dinosaur,” Kozachik said. “It’s about time it turns into a fossil and we look at it someday that we’ve been through this with a question mark -- ‘why did we let it go on for so long.’”

Greyhound racing started in Tucson is 1944 and was once encouraged as a social event Over the years, as more was learned about the treatment of the animals, interest waned.

“Most people like dogs, many people have dogs,” Via said. “Nobody would want their dog treated like a racing greyhound. No one.”

The question now is what will be done with the 60-acre parcel. KOLD reached out to South Tucson leaders but did not hear back.

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