Deagon Upgrade Part Of Racing QLD’s Big Spend

By: Ryan Clark
July 21st, 2011

As it stands right now Deagon Racecourse is a facility pretty much unknown to the wider part of horse racing circles around the country.

Sitting in a prime location in the Northern suburbs of Brisbane the circuit is used exclusively as a training and trials venue with racing having ceased decades ago.

That is set to change though with a massive redevelopment touted which would see the course transformed into a harness and greyhound acing specialist course.

The Queensland State Government has pledged an extra $20 million for the scheme on top of the $80 million already given to the Queensland Racing Industry.

The current budget for the Deagon transformation is just shy of $40 million.

Making up the rest of the budget are a $35.4 million grant to the Gold Coast, a $7.44 million grant to Mackay, $7.27 to Beaudesert, $6.34 to Townsville, nearly $2 million to Cairns and $1.6 million to Rockhampton.

There is no schedule of works to be done as yet with Racing Queensland to prioritise the changes soon.

That being said the improvements at Mackay have been listed as urgent.

In addition to the racecourse listed, Ipswich could also be up for a $30 million package.

That will only happen though if the sale of Albion Park goes ahead, it is currently tied up in the courts.

Racing Queensland chairman Bob Bentley says the new funding announcements are a much needed boost to the stalled Queensland racing industry.

“This is the single biggest injection into the racing industry ever,” he said.

“I just hope everybody understands what it is. Our infrastructure is failing and we need to upgrade it.”

While the upgrades may seem positive, they are sure to be opposed by many sectors of the industry who are still battling for increases to prize money.

Some say this is a waste of funds which should be spent in other areas.

“It’s not much use having all these great facilities if there’s no owners left and that’s the way it’s heading with the static prize money levels,” one leading trainer said yesterday.

The capital to carry out the redevelopments has been freed up immediately with a $100 million loan from the Queensland treasury Corporation.

It will be rapid over five years with a redirection of 50 percent of the wagering tax.

A further bonus is that the loan will not be subject to any interest.

“It won’t be an impost on the industry as such,” Bentley said.

“We won’t have to find the money for interest. That will come out of the 50 per cent tax redirection from wagering.”

Much of this progress hangs in the balance though with Albion Park needing to be sold before the switch to Deagon can be made.

“Deagon is essential to the harness and greyhound industries,” Bentley said.

“Albion Park, apart from what everyone says, is not ideal for both.”

While there are no dates for construction to begin let alone the first race meet, Bentley says he’s confident things should start to get underway from the first part of next year.

“We are reasonably well advanced and would hope construction will start by the middle of next year,” he said.

“It will be a facility as good as anywhere in Australia.”

The big payout to the Gold Coast track will be used on upgrades to training tracks and safety with the average racegoer not likely to see any major differences.

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