Much like the regular economy the greyhound industry has been hit hard and the resiliency of the greyhound industry is apparent and remains an important staple in Abilene and Dickinson County’s economy. The industry competes in Abilene twice a year for spring and fall meets.
The fall meet is Oct. 10-15 at the headquarters the NGA, 729 Old Highway 40. The community’s tourism industry benefits as does local businesses that embrace the greyhound industry.
The bigger of the meets is in the fall and this fall there could be as many as 400 young greyhounds competing to the sport’s next star. The industry continues to have auctions to conclude the event. The auctions generate significant interest and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Greyhound Hall of Fame will include two locals – Vince Berland, owner of Flying Eagles kennel and farm, and one of his greyhounds, Kiowa Sweet Trey.
These are challenging times in the greyhound industry. The closest pari-mutuel racetrack is in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Abilene, the greyhound capital of the world, is in a state without racing. Each meet has been filled with cautious optimism, particularly in the spring when the state Legislature was in session in recent years.
Various bills that seemed to give hope that at least one Kansas racetrack would reopen would elusively fall short.
Despite the setbacks, greyhound producers and enthusiasts continue to descend here, celebrating a rich heritage, pay homage to past stars and look forward with optimism.
Greyhound producers want to generate their incomes through an open market. Unfortunately trends have gone away from the purity of the racing. Greyhound racing (and horse racing), once the darling of those who wanted to get away for an evening of entertainment, now has become part of a crowded field seeking the few entertainment dollars available.
Those who hold the track licenses want to have additional flexibility. It all gets complicated from there.
The bottom line is that those who raise and train greyhounds have fewer options. Greyhound producers have reacted like other businesses – cut costs, looked for other revenue producing ventures and consolidated when possible.
Those who have stayed in the industry deserve credit for their willingness continue trudging on. The greyhound industry is a core industry here and glad that national and international visitors continue to call Abilene their second home. Whatever we can do to help reopen tracks, particularly in Kansas, should become a high priority for residents and state lawmakers. The stakes are important to our economy.