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Blue Bonnets / Hippodrome de Montréal
LocationDecarie Boulevard
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Date opened1872 in Lachine
June 4, 1907 on Decarie Blvd.
Date closedOctober 13, 2009
Course typeFlat (until 1973) and harness
Notable racesPrix d'Été

The Blue Bonnets Raceway (later named Hippodrome de Montréal) was a horse racing track and casino in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It closed on October 13, 2009, after 137 years of operation.

Demolition of the site began in mid-2018, after sitting abandoned and derelict for nearly a decade.

History

In 1905, John F. Ryan founded the Jockey Club of Montreal, which on June 4, 1907, opened a Blue Bonnets Raceway on Decarie Boulevard. In 1958, Jean-Louis Levesque undertook major renovations that included building a multi-million-dollar clubhouse for the Blue Bonnets Raceway, and by 1961 it began to challenge the preeminence of the Ontario racing industry.[1] From 1961 to 1975, the Raceway was home to the Quebec Derby, an annual horse race conceived by Levesque.

Controversy erupted when the Namur metro station was built in close proximity to the Blue Bonnets Raceway. The Montreal Tramways Company had run streetcars right into the race track site. Some argued that the metro station site was chosen to benefit Blue Bonnets, while others argued that the tram stations would address future traffic problems.[2] This controversy coincided with a failed Blue Bonnets development project.[3]

In 1995, a municipal government corporation, La Société d'habitation et de développement de Montréal (SHDM), purchased the track and renamed it Hippodrome de Montréal. Owned and operated by the provincial government agency Société nationale du cheval de course (SONACC), it offered harness racing, inter-track wagering from the United States, off-track betting, two restaurants, and hundreds of video lottery terminals and slot machines.

Presidents

Press secretaries

Bankruptcy and closure

On June 27, 2008, Attractions Hippiques entered bankruptcy protection,[6] suspending horse racing and all other operations except its VLT gambling machines and inter-track wagering, which operated for a few more months. After the provincial government withdrew its support,[7] Attractions Hippiques declared bankruptcy on October 13, 2009, and permanently closed the racetrack.

Post-closure and uncertain future of the site

In July 2011, the rock band U2 used the site for a massive outdoor concert.[8]

On March 23, 2012, the Government of Quebec announced it was returning ownership of the land to the City of Montreal, on the condition that it would receive half of the profits from any sale of the land. As per the agreement, the land could not be sold until 2017 and would require decontamination.[9] In October 2014, it was brought to light that the government agreement was never signed or finalized, leaving the redevelopment project in limbo and its future in question. Plans to demolish the racetrack and clubhouse building by 2014 also fell through, leaving the buildings abandoned and grounds overgrown for nearly a decade.[10] In the summer of 2018, demolition of the former racetrack finally began; however, plans for any future redevelopment of the site remain uncertain.

See also

References

  1. ^ Jim Alexander Coleman, A Hoofprint on My Heart (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1971), 110
  2. ^ Timothy Lloyd Thomas, A City With a Difference: The Rise and Fall of the Montreal Citizen's Movement, (Montreal: Véhicule Press, 1997), 41.
  3. ^ Abe Limonchik, "The Montreal Economy: The Drapeau Years," in The City and Radical Social Change, ed. Dimitrios I. Roussopoulos (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), 179-180, 190.
  4. ^ "Charles Mayer". Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. 1971. Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  5. ^ "Journalisme – Mayer, Charles". Exploraré (in French). Retrieved December 25, 2020.
  6. ^ [1][permanent dead link] Attractions Hippiques restructuring. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  7. ^ [2] "Montreal racetrack closed under bankruptcy protection". CBC News, June 27, 2008. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  8. ^ "Concert review: U2 at the Hippodrome; July 8, 2011".
  9. ^ "Montreal's Hippodrome site to be developed". Archived from the original on March 25, 2012. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  10. ^ "Hippodrome development threatened as agreement with Quebec stalls". Archived from the original on October 2, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.

45°29′20.70″N 73°39′29.24″W / 45.4890833°N 73.6581222°W / 45.4890833; -73.6581222