Greyhound Racing at the Gabba

 Part 1: 1927- 170

Greyhound Racing was introduced to Queensland in 1927 by the Queensland Electric Coursing Company which completely upgraded the Brisbane Cricket Ground (now the Gabba) for the purpose. Circular seating around the whole ground installed above the old cycling track embankment gave 20,000 spectators a direct view of the track. A new main entrance with 10 turnstiles was built at the Woolloongabba end. Another entrance was provided at the Vulture Street end and special entrances from Main Street with direct access to the grand stand greatly improved access for patrons. However, the most significant improvement was the installation of underground electric lighting for night races.

The Brisbane Courier, 22 October 1927

The first official night meeting was held on 29 October 1927 with dogs racing behind a mechanical lure. Nine races were run over 550 yards (503 metres) and 825 yards (754 metres. Although gambling was not allowed, illegal betting was common. The sport became very popular with special programs and novelty events designed to attract families often including pony and goat races as well.


The Brisbane Courier 21 September 1927


The Brisbane Courier 18 January 1928

Due to opposition from the thoroughbred lobby and eventual banning of mechanical lures by the Government in 1930 the greyhound industry found it difficult to continue. The NSW-based Greyhound Coursing Association took over; using trained live hares, with the first meeting on 25 March 1930 over a distance of 300 yards. Without the benefit of legal betting revenue this venture also did not last long and greyhound racing in Brisbane stopped for about 40 years.

 Part 2: 1972-1993

Things changed for the greyhound racing industry in the early 1970s with the involvement of then Alderman Clem Jones (later Brisbane Lord Mayor) and John Hicks, press secretary to then Deputy Premier Gordon Chalk. The Gabba Greyhound Racing Club was formed on 17 March 1971 and Clem Jones was the inaugural club president. John Hicks became the first secretary/manager after resigning from his Government job. The club successfully lobbied to have a track laid down at the Brisbane Cricket Ground.

The first night meeting on the new track was held on 6 April 1972 over 558 and 704 metres. Gambling was legal by then and the crowd of about 11,500 had a choice of 42 bookmakers, including the well-known NSW Bill Waterhouse, John Harrigan and Ray Hopkins. Crowds in the first year averaged 5,500 and betting turnover was consistently high. Attendances declined when late night shopping was introduced in 1978, but interest was revived with a night of free admission drawing a crowd of 7,000 and betting turnover of almost $800,000.

View of the Gabba in 1987 with Greyhound Racing Track.(Brisbane City Council Images)

Greyhound racing continued at the Gabba until 1993 when the Government encouraged the club to relocate to the well-established Albion Park circuit. The last race meeting was held at the Gabba on 4 February 1993 attended by a crowd of about 4,500.

After re-development the grounds became the home of Sheffield Shield and Test Cricket and the Brisbane Bears AFL club (later to become the Brisbane Lions).  (adapted from )