The Woodlands Closure
In 1989, The Woodlands opened its doors for Thoroughbred horse racing, Quarter horse racing and greyhound racing events. By 1990 the establishment was bringing in $197 million in betting and wagering handle. Trouble started looming for The Woodlands in 1994, as riverboat casinos started luring punters, causing the wagering handle of the track to decline. The track is experiencing such as low at the moment that they have decided to close down The Woodlands, effective 24 August 2008.
With approximately two hundred and fifty employees working at The Woodlands, of which some have been there since the track opened, it has been a very difficult decision for the owners of the track. The great decline in revenue, with the first half of 2008 only bringing in $28.8 million, track owners and specialists brought in to evaluate the track’s situation have had to stare reality in the face and admit that there was no other alternative for the time being but to close down operations.
Let it be said that the track owners did not come to this decision without pulling out all the stops first to try and save The Woodlands. Adding camel racing and the Wiener Dog Nationals to their line up to generate attendance and support just wasn’t boosting the track enough to stay afloat and on top of their already heavy load, a raise in gambling tax tipped the scales. The track started working on plans to renovate the dog racing clubhouse and constructing a facility to house slot machines, but with the gambling tax of forty percent, it meant that over and above those taxes, the track would have to pay a fourteen percent levy for the purse money in both the dog and horse racing events, one percent to the state horse fair benefit fund, another three percent for local taxes and two percent to the gamblers aid program. After all the taxes had been paid, and the staff, there would not be enough left to carry the track. The Woodlands tried to stay afloat while waiting for the slot legislation and have been in negotiations with the Kansas Lottery, but it seems to be too late for the beautiful track.
The dog kennels and the horse racing community are shocked by the closure, as many horsemen were getting ready to move their horses over in September. The track owners and officials are trying to remain optimistic, hoping that they can maybe reopen the track at a later stage, not wanting to give up, but having no alternative for the time being.