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Statewide dog tracks remain empty

Despite an optimistic start, greyhound dog racing in Wisconsin proved to be an ill-fated venture and reinventing them for other commercial use is proving difficult.

The Hudson School District included information on the other four former dog tracks as part of their report to the Hudson City Council and plan commission. The report compared each of the facilities with the Hudson dog track to provide "additional perspective on the potential of St. Croix Meadows being redeveloped with commercial or industrial uses."

St. Croix Meadows closed in 2001 after 10 years of operation. There was interest in converting the facility into a casino but that plan was abandoned after any expansion of gambling in the state was prohibited. The property has been for sale but has remained vacant.

The other former dog tracks are located in Wisconsin Dells, Delavan, Kaukauna and Kenosha. Dairyland in Kenosha was the last facility to close in 2009.

According to the district's report, the only property that has been redeveloped is the Wisconsin Dells facility. It is now a Tanger Outlet Center.

The 90-acre facility at Kaukauna closed in 1993. The owner tried unsuccessfully for 10 years to find a new use before selling the property to the city of Kaukauna. According to the report, Kaukauna spent $4 million to purchase it. They tore down the buildings, subdivided it into lots and made road and utility improvements. After five years, 12 of the 80 developable acres have been sold.

There has been no redevelopment at the Kenosha track or the Lake Delavan track, which closed in 2005.

The report included information from city staff from three of the four communities where the facilities are located. It noted that St. Croix Meadows is the only site not located on an interstate or major highway and that it has the lowest traffic count, 3,400 vehicles per day, of any of the other tracks which range from 20,000 vehicles per day (Lake Delaven) to a high of 95,000 vehicles per day past the Kenosha track.

The report also pointed out that all the properties are zoned for a variety of commercial uses and all are surrounded by a mixture of uses including vacant land, commercial, industrial and residential use.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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