Dog-racing track makes impact on Hudson

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published October 1, 1991  | October 1991 issue

When St. Croix Meadows, one of several greyhound racing tracks planned for Wisconsin, was proposed a few years ago, the residents of Hudson were deeply divided over the economic impact the track would have on their community.

Between its opening June 20 until early September, about 600 area residents have been employed by the track and 325,000 fans have passed through its turnstiles.

However, downtown Hudson hasn't seen much increase in business, says Kitty Rhoades, executive director of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce. Rhoades says an occasional tourist bus stops downtown, but there has not been heavy retail track traffic that some anticipated.

And while Hudson is a city divided on the benefits of the racetrack, it is also divided geographically by Interstate 94. According to Rhoades, the section of town that lies near the race track is clearly experiencing an increase in business, with the development of about $100 million worth of new hotels, fast-food restaurants and discount retailers.

"There's a whole section of town here now that wasn't here before," Rhoades says. But she says that some of the new retail business may be due to Hudson's location as a growing commuter community for the Twin Cities.

In addition to the increased commercial development, St. Croix Meadows also brings tax dollars to the area. "At the end of October we'll turn over thousands of dollars to St. Croix County, the city of Hudson and a nearby township," says Rick Schara, St. Croix Meadows spokesperson.

Schara also says there are some ancillary new businesses as a result of St. Croix Meadows. "Some people are raising and breeding greyhounds; it's a fledgling industry."

Although the dog-racing track is scheduled to end its season before the December holidays, Schara says groups are already booking year-end parties in the clubhouse facilities. Also, St. Croix Meadows has applied for a permit to reopen in early January with hopes of drawing Super Bowl fans from Minneapolis.

Kathy Cobb