Tampa Bay Downs group reaches deal to buy Tampa Greyhound

Published Jan. 8, 2015

TAMPA — Tampa Bay Downs has reached an agreement to buy the Tampa Greyhound Track facility in what the horse track characterizes as a pre-emptive move.

"We knew the property was for sale, and we had become somewhat nervous that a developer would go in there and close the simulcast operation," Downs general manager Peter Berube told the Daily Racing Form.

"It's a big source of revenue for our purses, and what we've found is that when a simulcast facility closes, that handle just disappears."

For fiscal year 2013-14, Tampa Greyhound had total handle of $21,031,608, down 7.61 percent from the previous year. The simulcast schedule focuses on thoroughbreds and greyhounds. A percentage of simulcast revenue goes to tracks such as Tampa Bay Downs where the races originate.

Tampa Greyhound had poker room receipts of $2,060,484, down 8.78 percent from the previous year.

Tampa Greyhound, located off Interstate 275 in the Sulphur Springs area about 5 miles north of downtown, transferred live dog racing to St. Petersburg's Derby Lane in 2007 but still hosts poker rooms and simulcasting of dog and horse races. It has been speculated as a potential redevelopment site, even as a possible site for a Rays baseball stadium.

But if all regulatory hurdles are cleared, Tampa Bay Downs' subsidiary TBDG Acquisition LLC will purchase the track and its operations from Associated Outdoor Clubs Inc. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It was business as usual Wednesday at Tampa Greyhound with several hundred fans doing simulcast wagering. The poker room has 19 card tables but only three were being used.

The track infield is overgrown and the tote board remains.

Efforts to contact Mike Hater, Tampa Greyhound Track president and general manager, were unsuccessful.

Times staff writer Ivan Penn and correspondent Don Jensen contributed to this report.