• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Oxford Stadium will see greyhound racing return despite opposition

Byoxfordnewspaper

Aug 2, 2022

Greyhound racing is set to return to Oxford this month, despite continued opposition from locals and councillors on the grounds of animal welfare.

The controversial sport will return to Oxford Stadium on August 26 following a ten year absence.

Kevin Boothby, Oxford Stadium managing director, expects more than 2,000 punters to be trackside on opening night and has increased the venue’s capacity to cope with demand.

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Oxford Mail: Kevin Boothby, Oxford Stadium managing directorKevin Boothby, Oxford Stadium managing director

He said: “We’ve experienced an overwhelming response for the return of speedway, and we forecast similar demand when greyhound racing returns to Sandy Lane.

“We are leaving no stone unturned concerning the redevelopment of our racing facilities so we can guarantee welfare standards at Oxford Stadium will meet world-leading standards.

“Following a challenging period for the sport and hospitality sectors off the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s really pleasing to unlock greyhound racing’s return and provide a timely boost to Oxford and the wider community.”

Stadium bosses have invested more than £250,000 of a £1.2million sum already committed to restoring the facility to its former glory, including the redevelopment of the track, its kennelling and veterinary facilities.

Greyhound racing beginning again at the stadium comes after speedway racing has already returned to Oxford Stadium, with the world-famous Oxford Cheetahs riding in the British Speedway Championship and Oxford Chargers in the National Development League.

Mr Boothby added: “Greyhound racing will sit at the heart of our regeneration programme and has ultimately facilitated the return of our sport and community projects.

“These provisions have had a significant impact on the local area by creating scores of jobs, delivering lifechanging mental health and wellbeing programmes and saving the historic Blackbird Leys ABC from closure.

“It has always been our ambition to transform Oxford Stadium from a derelict, decaying, space to a multi-purpose venue local people can be proud of and feel attached to.

“We look forward to hosting a bumper crowd on opening night providing the perfect start to the bank holiday weekend.”

However, not everyone is in support of the sport coming back to the city and thousands of people have signed online petitions calling for a ban.

Last month, councillor Lucy Pegg slammed the city’s Labour councillors for failing to oppose the sport and called greyhound racing “barbaric”

The Green councillor said: "Greyhound racing is a barbaric practice which has no place in our city.

"It is utterly shameful that the overwhelming majority of Oxford Labour Councillors voted against opposing cruelty to animals.”

Racing will be held on Friday and Saturday evenings initially, with additional fixtures added during the week at a later date.

Tickets for the first greyhound racing fixture at the stadium are on-sale now and can be purchased from oxford-stadium.co.uk

Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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