While most dog parks in Northern Ireland are closing, Businessman John McCollum, along with partners Tommy Anderson and Michael McAdam, opened a new £3 million dog racing track on the outskirts of Belfast. They are hoping to expand the dog park image beyond the traditional one of an old chap placing bets into a family friendly happening night spot.
Drumbo Park is situated just past the Malone Golf Course and the three are hoping they can mimic the success of Shelbourne Park and Harold’s Cross in Dublin. Their idea is “a night at the dogs” includes entertainment, restaurants and bars and they are hoping people will genuinely take to it.
Mr McCollum openly admits he based the park on Shelbourne park and Harold’s Cross which he saw and realized he could bring to Belfast and make it work. His slogan for the park is ‘Northern Ireland’s new night out’. He means to make the dog park somewhere you can go with a group of your guy friends, your girl friends, fundraisers, or your business associates.
Drumbo Park replaces what used to be called Ballyskeagh dog park. The new improvements include three bars, a three story restaurant, a fast food restaurant and a coffee bar. The restaurant facilities offer a panoramic view of the track but for those who didn’t pack their viewing glasses there are one hundred plasma TVs which also showcase a live link from Shelbourne Park in Dublin. There is even a table tote service so you don’t need to leave your seat all night if you don’t want to. The venue can hold about three hundred diners.
Among the faces seen at the opening were Hilden brothers Billy and David Hunter. Being close to the track they were among the first through the door and suitably impressed with the revamp. They joked that they have saved some money since the old track closed so they will have plenty to bet on the new racing. Also in the crowd were Amanda Coyles and Vicki Moody from Down Royal Race Course who were impressed with the standard of the hospitality suite.
East Belfast dog owner Alison Ayre and her dog trainer John Campbell were also in attendance. She was quite excited about not having to drive all the way to Lifford or Dundalk to race her dogs with the current price of petrol. Dermott Norton from Downpatrick was also there with his dog ‘Utah Player’ in the first race. He couldn’t believe how large the new track was and the posh accommodations. Hugh McAllister from Ballygalley was also there and excited about the possibilities of the new track. Everyone in attendance seemed to really think the new park was great and that it will do well.