Huge harness racing shake-up
The long-running legal dispute between the Albion Park Harness Racing Club and Racing Queensland has been resolved, ensuring harness racing will soon have a new home in this state.
The resolution also paves the way for Racing Queensland - having already found a new home for greyhounds - to either sell or develop Albion Park, which will unlock a significant amount of money to boost the industry's Racing Infrastructure Fund.
After almost three years, the two parties have come to an agreement on the matter, which revolved around RQ building a new grandstand in the wake of the old one being condemned more than a decade ago and as a result being partly demolished. The dispute has been settled out of court, with the details of the settlement confidential.
APHRC chairman David Fowler said the litigation had become a significant drain on the club's finances and was hindering any progress being made on the future for the sport in Brisbane, with RQ's stated desire to sell Albion Park.
"It's time to draw a line in the sand and move forward," Fowler said.
"Reality bites. Racing Queensland has made abundantly clear their future plans for Albion Park Raceway, which is supported by State Government."
He said the settlement of the litigation was made easier by RQ's commitment to build a "world class harness racing facility".
"The collaboration between APHRC and RQ heads towards a new future for this club and the industry in general," Fowler said.
Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell said there has been years of fighting over the issue and this outcome means that chapter is closed, and a new future for harness racing is imminent.
"The immediate priority is finding a new home for harness, as we have done for greyhounds, and as our most valuable asset, the Albion Park land, we need to maximise what we can do there for the industry's benefit," he said.
"Our shortage is infrastructure funds and this is one way we can help our infrastructure funding for future decades.
"You can't do that without finding a metropolitan home for Queensland harness."
Fowler said the proposal for a new site for harness racing in southeast Queensland had the potential for the club to access new revenue streams and have better control over its business model.
"We've seen the morale boost to the greyhound industry with the recent announcement of their $39 million world class facility. Harness racing will now follow," he said.
The Albion Park club and RQ are now working together on the suitability of a number of selected sites that have been short-listed.
Despite the ongoing legal issue, the two parties had collaborated on refurbishing the remaining grandstand and a significant makeover of the track.