It’s been a long time coming, but finally the Queensland Government has signed off on a new home and harness centre of excellence for our code in Queensland.
With The Creek due to be handed over to the Olympic organising committee ahead of being developed into a games venue for the 2032 Olympics, the Albion Park Harness Racing Club is moving to a greenfield location at Norwell.
While some are nervous and maybe disappointed about having no option but to exit our metropolitan location, I am excited by what this announcement will do for our industry. The most positive aspect of our relocation is that the club and industry will own this significant asset which will include a harness centre of excellence, training facilities, ample stabling, a new track and modern patron and participant facilities. Fully owned by the industry, the new Queensland Harness Centre as it’s initially known as will provide assurance and confidence for the long-term future for participants and encourage others to join the code. It will enable new participants (trainers) to enter harness racing by providing necessary infrastructure that is generally out of reach and unaffordable today. And starting with a blank canvas, we can create a ‘smart stadium’ featuring state-of-the-art infrastructure to take an unmatched high-tech, high-quality coverage of local harness to the world!
Just like when the Albion Park Trotting Club (our old name) commenced racing in September 1968, this metamorphosis heralds a new era in the Queensland harness industry. The first meeting under lights on Saturday 7 September 1968 featured packed grandstands, around 80 bookmakers and a crowd of over 15,000.
Wouldn’t it be great to see something similar when we cut the ribbons on our new home in around four years’ time (although it might be tough finding 80 bookies!).
The other great news – there will be an extensive consultation process headed by the club and Racing Queensland to make sure we end up with a product everyone is proud of. Therefore, I encourage you to have your say and get involved in the consultation.
Consistent with the Racing Governance and Industry Reforms, this exciting venture will allow harness clubs to have new and additional commercial and self-sustainable income streams over time.
The $99M injection of infrastructure funding (RQ Annual Report) for QLD harness racing is a welcome and much needed repatriation and replacement of past track closures.
We are likely to exit Albion Park around winter 2026, but I will keep members, sponsors and stakeholders updated on any developments.