Wanting to see prime real estate redeveloped near the Mid-America Center, key figures from Council Bluffs have taken leadership roles in a new organization dedicated to ending greyhound racing in Iowa.
Former Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan and Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Bob Mundt are involved in Iowans for Ending Dog Racing, an organization that announced its formation Wednesday.
“Dog racing right now, it's just not producing what it used to produce,” Mundt said. “It's just not worth it anymore to have it in the casinos.”
Gambling profits at Iowa's two dog tracks — the former Bluffs Run track now at Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs and Mystique Casino in Dubuque — have plummeted from a combined total of $186 million in 1986 to $5.9 million in 2012. Community leaders from Dubuque are also involved in the organization.
Last week, a bill that would have permitted the two casinos to end greyhound racing, while requiring them to pay the Iowa greyhound industry $70 million over several years, passed out of committee in the Iowa House. A similar bill was tabled in the Iowa Senate, making passage much more difficult.
Mundt said the land where Bluffs Run is located could be redeveloped into hotels, restaurants or stores.
“We just think it's a much higher, better use for that area than a dog track,” he said.
Those involved in the greyhound industry don't agree. Bob Hardison, president of the Iowa Greyhound Association, said greyhound racing was what made the Horseshoe Casino possible in the first place.
Bluffs Run added the casino in 1995 after a change in Iowa law allowed racetracks to open casinos.
Hardison also noted that the greyhound industry in Iowa employs about 1,200 people.
“I don't understand the logic behind it,” said Hardison, an Onawa-based greyhound breeder and kennel owner. “I don't know why you would want to put these people out of work when they love their jobs.”
Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh is not involved in the organization formed to end dog racing but supports its goals.
“It just doesn't make sense to continue subsidizing an industry that effectively is dead,” he said Wednesday.
End Iowa Dog Racing is asking Iowans to go to its website, www.endiowadogracing.com, to sign an online petition.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1310, email@example.com