The Grand Ronde tribal confederation of Oregon has purchased Multnomah Greyhound Park, a former greyhound track in Wood Village that closed more than ten years ago. The price was not disclosed, although when the property went onto the market earlier this year the asking price was .2 million.
The tribe long fought to keep this 31-acre site from being turned into a casino that would compete with its own Spirit Mountain Casino, which is the largest casino in the state.
Several years ago a private investor sought to build a commercial casino on the site. Now that the tribe has acquired it, speculation is rampant that it would like to reopen the facility as a tribal casino.
Tribal officials last week said that the purchase assured that no other commercial proposal will be advanced for the land. They say they envision a possible mixed-use for it, but were not willing to completely scotch the notion that they might try to open a second casino there.
Tribal Chairman Reyn Leno declared, “While we cannot rule anything out in terms of the future of gaming in Oregon, our priority at this time is to develop this property in a manner that diversifies our investment holdings.”
Some industry observers point out that the tribe would like to preempt the effects of the planned Cowlitz tribal casino in neighboring Washington by building another casino to keep from losing customers. It is also fighting the Cowlitz casino in La Center in federal court.
“I wouldn’t say we would never do gaming there,” a lobbyist for the tribe told Oregon Live. To open a casino at the former racetrack the tribe would first need to persuade the Bureau of Indian Affairs to put the land into trust, making it reservation land. It would also need to negotiate a new state tribal gaming compact with the state, which current limits each tribe to one casino on its reservation.
The city manager of Wood Village, Bill Peterson, said that the tribe has been talking with city officials about possible uses for the land but hasn’t given the city anything definite. Peterson said the city leans towards a mixed-use development.