Alex Park Update

By Michael Guerin

Huge stakes increases programmed for Alexandra Park will go ahead even after delays with one of the apartment blocks being built at the track.

 And while admitting the delays were disappointing, ATC bosses say the racing business will continue to thrive.

 ATC chief executive Dominique Dowding resigned on Friday for personal reasons, wanting to spend more time with an ill family member.

 That has left former president Rod Croon in an executive director role until a new chief executive is found, which could be several months.

 The transition period comes after a tough year off the track for the club which has seen lengthy delays to two residential and commercial towers at Alexandra Park, with original construction company Canam dismissed from one development and a subsequent legal battle between the two organisations.

 The tower and a second one are now moving ahead well with Tower B to be the first opened in November this year.

The more delayed Tower A will not open until April next year and the original owners of a small percentage of the 246 apartments have taken their deposits back and quit the building.

 “Those apartments are going back to the market via Bayleys this week and we expect to sell them at a premium on what they were originally,” says Croon.

But there is no denying the delays and construction issues will cut into the bottom line for the ATC.

 “We have to be realistic about that but the good news for the racing industry is we are a trotting club and we intend to keep raising stakes because the industry needs that,” says Croon.

“Those stakes increases are going to be funded long-term by the leases on the commercial spaces in the lower levels of the towers and those deals are still very much in place.

 “So the stakes increases are here to stay.”

 The increases start next week and are some of the largest in New Zealand racing history. They mean the normal Friday night meetings at Alexandra Park are going to match premier level stakes at other meetings in the country.

 The club will still hold two races per standard meeting at $15,000 per race but all other races will be at $20,000 or $25,000 for the main pace and trot of the night.

 That means, quite incredibly, a standard Friday night one-win band race at Alexandra Park will be worth twice as much as the same race at all mid-week thoroughbred meetings.

The club holds it Woodlands Northern Derby meeting at Alexandra Park this Friday.

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