There is only one winner in Australian cities and that is real estate. Property prices close to horse racing tracks may be steep but that is as much about the paucity of housing in desirable areas in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the other capital cities. The longer and more relevant trend has seen the demise of race tracks and paceways for their potential property development value. With dwindling crowds at race tracks, and more people watching it online and on television, the push will continue to have more racing away from the main metropolitan areas.
Similar things have been happening to golf courses, which find themselves surrounded by residential development. There are still golf courses being built with housing fringing the fairways, but these are most often in outer suburban or regional areas. Living on a golf course, or near a park, or any expanse of green and space is highly desirable, but eventually that demand eats up the space itself; unless it is protected by local government regulations. However, in time, even these can be reviewed and changed by circumstances and pro-development councillors. People living in cities want to live in the best parts of those cities and eventually more housing is made available for them in those areas.
Horseracing news confirms the poor crowds, especially midweek at places like Canterbury Park in Sydney. Will this expanse eventually go the way of Harold Park paceway in Glebe and fall victim to the rapacious appetite of real estate and property development? The iconic Royal Randwick race track will endure for a few more decades, I imagine, but even that place will not be immune in the very long term. Racing may become housed in outer suburban fringe and country tracks, with the majority of punters viewing it electronically.
Cheltenham Park race course in Adelaide closed in two thousand and nine, and it is on the cards that the capital cities, in Australia, will not be able to maintain two race courses in metropolitan areas. The demand for housing is just too great and the horse racing industry is a product of another era; when land was plentiful. If racing became more focused in regional centres this could also reinvigorate those country towns where racing was happening. Money could flow into these equine centres with training and racing facilities making them the hub for thoroughbred racing in this nation.