We live by stadium but it’s being torn down for shops… there was a better way
FUMING locals reckon a city has gone to the dogs with the “heartbreak” news that after 89 years its iconic greyhound racing stadium is to be bulldozed.
Punters used to attend in their thousands three times a week – Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – to watch dogs running at the track, less than a mile from Peterborough city centre.
Then Covid forced the Perkins family, who had run it since 1945, to announce in May 2020 that they were reluctantly closing down.
Now there are plans to build commercial units on the site which insiders claim could create up to 250 jobs and give an £11million-a-year boost to the local economy.
But, local legend Barry Fry, 78, who is director of football at Peterborough Football Club, said: “It’s a great shame. The racecourse was an asset to the community.
“There is nothing else like it in Peterborough. Whole families used to go there and it was very, very popular with people of all ages.
“I used to take the players and all the office staff along twice every season. We’d have a wonderful day out and an excellent meal in the restaurant. The food was always magnificent.
“Things change, of course, over the years but this will be a massive loss to the city.”
Retired printer Derek Barber used to have a semi-detached house until the home next door was demolished to widen an access road to the stadium.
“They wanted to knock my place down as well,” said Derek, 77.
“But I refused to go, although I did lose a big chunk of my back garden.
“To be honest, life has been a lot more peaceful for me after the track closed.
“Before the meetings we’d often get some of those protesters turning up, complaining about animal cruelty and that sort of stuff.
“Then afterwards there’d be taxis parked everywhere outside with drunks peeing up against my house. So I’m not sad to see it go.”
‘I WILL MISS IT’
Composer and cellist Joanna Borrett, 66, who has just bought a rental house a few yards away, knew nothing about the stadium.
But she said: “While I’m sad to see an historic building go, I am very glad there will be no more greyhound racing there.
“I think it is terrible. They don’t treat the dogs well and then they dump them if they don’t win. So, I won’t shed any tears over that.
“But the stadium looks a lovely building and is probably worth preserving. Instead of demolishing it, why don’t they turn it into a sports centre and athletics ground for the kids round here?
Things change, of course, over the years but this will be a massive loss to the city.”
Barry FryDirector of football at Peterborough Football Club
“That would be brilliant and something which would really benefit the community.”
Pradip Patel, who runs Hereward stationary business round the corner from the stadium, agreed it would be sad to see the stadium bulldozed.
He said: “I used to go regularly and would occasionally sponsor a table at events there. So I will miss it.
“But the site has become a mess since the track closed. Second-hand car dealers have been taking over and parking everywhere.
“Some new industrial units will tidy it up as well as bringing some much-needed employment to the area. It’s better than more houses – we do need jobs round here.”
Grandparents Tony Tunnicliffe, 78, and his wife Brenda, 79, despair of how established buildings in the area are being torn down to make way for industrial units.
Standing outside the end-terrace house where he has lived since 1974, the former forklift truck driver said: “I think they will eventually demolish this place too.
“It used to be all fields round us – one lady down the road lived in a caravan with a cow outside. But it’s all gone downhill. Just look at it – it’s a concrete jungle now.”
Since the racecourse closed, the site has been used by local businesses for storage and selling second-hand cars.
But the Perkins family recently sold it to Fengate Land Holdings Ltd (FLHL) who have applied to the council for change of use and permission to construct commercial units.
When they closed the stadium, the family issued a statement saying: “We are an evening greyhound racing venue and rely heavily on income from customers attending the venue to eat, drink, and bet (on our Tote) to survive.
“Without the substantial number of visitors, we have experienced in the run-up to the current Coronavirus outbreak, and the prospect of this not being achieved in even the longer term as social distancing measures remain in place, the long- term viability of continuing to trade from the site as a greyhound racing stadium is unsustainable.
“This is a decision that has not been taken lightly and has been taken in conjunction with and on the advice of our accountants. Long term, we are advised that the site cannot make a sufficient return to continue operating profitably as a greyhound racing stadium.
“So, it is with a heavy heart that the Perkins family would like to thank all greyhound owners and trainers, past and present, who have been attached to the stadium over the years for their support.
“We would also like to thank all those patrons who have visited and enjoyed a night’s racing with us over the years.”
…The site has become a mess since the track closed. Second-hand car dealers have been taking over and parking everywhere.”
Pradip PatelHereward stationary business
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain’s managing director Mark Bird said at the time: “We’re extremely saddened to hear the news. This is a long-established track, run by the Perkins since 1945, that has served its community through that time and holds incredible, long-lasting memories for racing fans throughout the country.”
When we spoke to Richard Perkins, outside the site yesterday (Friday), he said that although the stadium had been a great entertainment hub, times had changed and Covid had been its death knell.
But he added that talk of holding speedway events at the stadium were unrealistic because the track was not big enough.
Andy Girvan, who works on behalf of FLHL, told the BBC it was hoped the Peterborough site would eventually become a “fully-occupied and vibrant new business hub” creating up to 250 new jobs.
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