The former Multnomah Greyhound Park in Wood Village, Oregon, is seen before demolition work. Photo: A.F. Litt

Grand Ronde Tribes place site of former racetrack on the market

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde will not pursue economic development opportunities at a former racetrack near Oregon's largest city, officials announced.

The tribe bought the 31-acre site for an undisclosed price in 2015. But after investing a significant amount of work to prepare the land for development, it's being put on the market.

“The opportunities for this site are truly remarkable,” Vice Chairman Chris Mercier said in a press release on Tuesday. “However, they are not the best fit for the Grand Ronde Tribe at this time."

The acquisition of the former Multnomah Greyhound Park raised speculation of a gaming facility right outside of Portland, the most populous city in Oregon. The purchase came as the Cowlitz Tribe was preparing to open a casino just across the border in Washington state.

Multnomah Greyhound Park demolition ceremony in Wood Village on Tuesday, June 28.

Posted by The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde on Thursday, June 30, 2016
Demolition of the former Multnomah Greyhound Park in Wood Village, Oregon, began in June 2016.

Grand Ronde leaders never ruled out gaming at the site. Even the project's name -- Spirit Mountain at Wood Village -- spoke of a connection to the Spirit Mountain Casino.

But there was never a firm plan for a casino there. And the Cowlitz Tribe eventually opened the ilani gaming facility in April 2017 after Grand Ronde and other opponents lost court challenges.

Since then, Grand Ronde has weathered the competition, even though ilani is the closest Indian gaming property to Portland. Spirit Mountain suffered only "single-digit impacts," Smoke Signals, the tribe's newspaper, reported in April.

“Competition is good,” Chairman Reyn Leno told Smoke Signals. “I think it helps us sharpen our pencil and I think it helps us work harder to do what our customers want us to do as opposed to just thinking we are the only game in town. I think, basically, we’ve done that."

The tribe is holding a meeting on Tuesday evening to update citizens on the decision to sell the site, Smoke Signals reported.

Multnomah Greyhound, located in the city of Wood Village, was vacant before Grand Ronde purchased it in 2015. Prior to that, it had operated as a racetrack from 1957 through 2004.

“We appreciate the relationship that we have developed with the Grand Ronde Tribe over the past three years and look forward to continuing that partnership through cultural celebration and recognition of the tribes history in the area,” Mayor Timothy Clark said on Tuesday.

"We’re excited to work with the city of Wood Village to find a new buyer that will make this vision a reality," Vice Chairman Mercier said.

Grande Ronde is about 63 miles southwest of Portland and the tribe maintains strong connections there. A significant number of citizens live in the city and the tribe operates an office near the downtown area.

The Cowlitz Tribe's reservation, whose legality was affirmed by the courts, is about 25 miles north of downtown Portland.

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Decision
Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon v. Jewell (July 29, 2016)

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