HUDSON, Wis. – The long-shuttered St. Croix Meadows Dog Track is being torn down to make way for a $200 million development that will include a baseball stadium, hotel, brewery, sports complex, research facilities, offices and condominiums.
The redevelopment is aimed at transforming the riverfront community, remaking what was once a promising part of the city that has sat idle since 2001.
"This means so much to the community," said Hudson Mayor Rich O'Connor, adding that the development will create about 1,000 jobs and, he hopes, encourage young people to stay in Hudson.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation kicked in $500,000 to assist with demolition, a grant that Gov. Scott Walker said was meant "exactly for projects like this where you've got to take something down to put something up."
Walker, who attended the unveiling of the project on Tuesday, said officials expect the state funding will "be a catalyst for even more growth and opportunity in the not too distant future." The development grants are designed for projects on large sites that have been dormant for at least five years.
The first phase of the project, which includes the construction of the baseball field for the St. Croix River Hounds, as well as a corporate office and restaurant, is expected to be completed next year. The entire redevelopment is anticipated to be complete in 2022.
The dog track, with its palatial 372,000-square-foot grandstand and office complex, closed in 2001 and went up for sale for the first time in 2011. It had been beset by financial losses since shortly after its 1991 opening.
The track cost $40 million to build and was one of five Wisconsin greyhound pari-mutuel racing facilities to open in 1990-91. All of them ended up closing as patrons increasingly tried their luck at casinos.
Even as much of the surrounding area in Hudson has been developed, the 130-acre site on the southern edge of the city has sat unused for 17 years.
"For a lot of people, this has been an eyesore for a long time and this [redevelopment] turns it into something spectacular," said Walker, who anticipates the site will attract families from both sides of the St. Croix River.
With the half-demolished shells of the dog track's staircases behind him, real estate developer Klint Klaas said the "significant property" has sat vacant for too long.
"We are extremely proud to bring life to it," he said.