"No plans to end live racing": Tucson Greyhound Park CEO says new bill or not, show will go on

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

"No plans to end live racing": Tucson Greyhound Park CEO says new bill or not, show will go on

CREATED Jan. 28, 2013

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -  To race or not to race? That's the question facing Tucson Greyhound Park. For nearly 70 years- the answer has always been yes-- Because the law said so. Now a new house bill could mean big changes in how Tucson Greyhound Park operates.

Months ago, it would have seemed unlikely, two former foes now see to eye, sort of.

"It's kind of an odd bedfellows thing, but if we can move forward on it that's great," said councilman Steve Kozachik.

"If he's for, I'm for it, let's do it," said Tucson Greyhound Park CEO Tom Taylor.

Kozachik and Taylor both support HB2329. The bill gives racetracks located in counties with now less than 1.5 million residents a chance to opt out of live racing, stay open and just stick to simulcast betting. But the cumbayah fest between the two, ends there.

"The ultimate goal is to stop live racing in Arizona," said Kozachik.

"There's no plan to shut down live racing, so if he thinks it will end greyhound racing, it won't," Taylor said.

Taylor says the racing will go on, but if that's the case 9OYS wanted to know why push for a law like this if shutting down live racing wasn't the ultimate goal.

"Animal activists say this signals the end of live racing in Tucson, what do you say about that?" 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito asked Taylor. He replied, "It gives us that option, yes. We don't have that option today."

Keyword is option. The option to stop live racing and still stay open. It's an option Taylor says the park needs because of a tough economy. A steroid injections ban prompted by 9OYS's investigation didn't help matters either. This bill give them the chance to choose between off-track betting and live racing, if the economy forces them to.

"We want to have both," said Taylor.

"Can you survive without live racing?" asked Benito.

Taylor replied, "I don't know cause we've never had to."

Kozachik and other greyhound groups hope they learn to survive without live racing on the schedule.

"It's a horrific industry," Kozachik said. "And I'll be happy to let them shut down live racing in Arizona."

Taylor tells 9OYS if he were to end live racing, 50 people would lose their jobs. He wants his critics to remember that, each time they advocate for shutting the park permanently.

HB2329 is expected to pass with little opposition in Phoenix. Stay with KGUN9 as the bill moves through legislative process.