Iowa’s Last Greyhound Park Begins It’s Final Season
This past Saturday marked the beginning of the final season of greyhound racing at a facility in Iowa. The dogs will run at Dubuque's Iowa Greyhound Park through May 15th. Then it will shut its doors for good, ending greyhound racing in the state of Iowa, according to the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.
June 1st, 1985. That was opening day at the Dubuque Greyhound Park. The Telegraph Herald reports that the facility drew so many people during its early days, that the parking lots were filled to capacity, and the overflow parked alongside a nearby highway. Buses would visit from out of town. Police were called in to help direct traffic. The track helped turn around the fortunes of the Dubuque during the recession of the 1980s. The Telegraph Herald reports that the opening season saw over $41 million wagered on greyhound racing. In year two, that total soared to over $63 million.
But in 1990, Wisconsin approved five greyhound tracks of their own. Revenues began to fall. The Telegraph Herald reports that the track added 520 slot machines in 1995, knowing that they were also competing against riverboat gambling which arrived in Dubuque in 1991. With racing revenue falling and gambling exploding all over the state of Iowa, the final straw came in 2014 when state lawmakers approved a deal that allowed the Q Casino and Hotel in Dubuque and another casino in Council Bluffs to sever ties with the greyhound parks. Racing ended immediately in Council Bluffs, leaving Dubuque's park the only greyhound facility left in Iowa.
The Telegraph Herald reports that the end of dog racing as a nationwide sport happened in 2018 when Florida outlawed the sport by constitutional amendment at the end of the 2020 season. With Florida gone, only four greyhound tracks remain in the United States. Dubuque, one in Arkansas and two in West Virginia. The track in Arkansas is also slated to close later this year.
The Telegraph Herald reports that the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved a one-month greyhound racing season for the Dubuque park last November. The final season will include 18 race days, with 10 races on each day. The last day that races will be held in Dubuque is May 15th.