Sunderland Greyhound Stadium is one of three tracks found in the northeast of England. Located in the Fulwell district, to the southeast of East Boldon and north of Sunderland, the track has now been entertaining the locals for over 80 years.
In common with many tracks in the land, the stadium has experienced its share of ups and downs over the years but has emerged as a top-level track since the turn of the century. Now in the hands of the Arena Racing Company, this busy venue boasts everything you need for a cracking night out at the dogs, including a glass-fronted restaurant, fast-food facilities, a selection of bars and executive suites.
What’s On Offer at Sunderland?
Sunderland plays host to a regular programme of four fixtures per week, taking place on Tuesday afternoons, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and Sunday Mornings:
- Tuesday – 12 races, Doors Open: 1pm, First Race: 2:04pm, Last Race: 5:22pm
- Wednesday – 12 races, Doors Open: 5:30pm, First Race: 6:19pm, Last Race: 9:16pm
- Thursday – 12 races, Doors Open: 5:30pm, First Race: 6:19pm, Last Race: 9:16pm
- Sunday – 12 races, Doors Open: 10:30am, First Race: 11:06pm, Last Race: 1:51pm
The major event of the season takes place in April with the annual running of the Arena Racing Company Grand Prix.
- Circuit Length – 378m
- Sprint Distance – 261m
- Middle Distances – 450m (standard)
- Stayers Distance – 640m
- Marathon Distance – 828m
What Can You Expect?
The Tuesday afternoon Bookmakers Afternoon Greyhound Service (BAGS) meetings offer free entry to all. These fixtures are comfortably the quietest of the week but do provide the opportunity to experience live greyhound action at a minimal cost and so can be a nice introduction to the sport for those with free time in the day.
“Winning Deal” Offer
General admission at all other fixtures is priced at £6, with racecards available for £2. A much better value option, however, is the “Winning Deal” offer. Priced at just £10 per head, this package includes entry, racecard, pie and pea supper, and a free alcoholic beverage. General admission and “Winning Deal” tickets grant access to the main bar and outside terraced viewing area.
Those attending on either a Thursday evening or Sunday morning have the additional option of a sit-down meal package in the trackside glass-fronted restaurant. Priced at £15.50 for those aged 12 and older, and £7.50 for under 12s, the Thursday deal includes entry, racecard, a two-course meal and a reserved table overlooking the track. At £11 for those aged 12 and older and £6 for under 12s, the Sunday package consists of entry, racecard, homemade roast dinner and reserved table.
Last but not least, the track’s private box packages are available to groups of between 15 and 48. All box packages are priced at £25 per head and include admission, racecard, a welcome drink, a 2-course buffet meal, and a private box complete with bar and betting service for the evening.
How to Get There
The stadium address is Sunderland Greyhounds, Newcastle Road, Sunderland, SR5 1RP. Those driving to the track should approach Sunderland via the A1018 before turning onto the A164 which leads directly to the track. Upon arrival at the venue, racegoers will find ample free parking just outside the stadium.
Rail travellers should alight at East Boldon train station which lies around a 20-minute walk, or a short taxi ride from the stadium. Alternatively, the number 9 local bus service stops around a two-minute walk from the track.
How to Get in Touch
- Tel: – 0191 5686 200
- Email: – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: – @SunderlandDogs
What Else Do I Need to Know?
Designed by renowned architects, Matkin and Hawkins, and built at a cost of £60,000, the stadium staged its first meeting back on the 23rd of March 1940. Initially known as the Boldon Greyhound Stadium, and later as Newcastle Sports Stadium – no doubt to the irritation of locals of a red and white persuasion – the track immediately forged strong links with the local mining community.
An impressive facility for the period, boasting three club areas, a ballroom, and covered enclosures, the track remained open throughout the Second World War. The culmination of the global conflict then saw a huge spike in attendance in what was a great time for the sport in general.
National Greyhound Racing Council
The post-war period also saw the track granted a National Greyhound Racing Council (NGRC) licence for the first time. Racing under official rules was to prove a short-lived affair, however, with the stadium owners opting to revert to independent status in 1951. This decision was made at the request of the local owner/trainer community, who required greater flexibility than afforded by the NGRC. The site would remain an independent or “flapping” track for almost 40 years.
The track fared well during the 1960s and 1970s with a speedway (1964-1974) adding to the regular programme of greyhound meetings. The late 70s also saw a significant track upgrade as the site switched from a grass to a sand surface for the first time. Despite outward appearances, the financial situation had become rather bleak by 1980 – to the extent that owners Sunderland Greyhound Racing co. pulled up stumps and the track was closed.
A gentleman by the name of John Young stepped in to keep things going, acting not only as the owner but also as the general manager and racing manager. His decision to introduce whippet racing also proved to be a popular decision, helping to increase the track’s income.
The next ownership change came in 1988 when racehorse owner Terry Robson and former Brough Park trainer, Harry Williams, took charge. Immediately pumping £1million into facilities, upgrades included a new track, glass-fronted restaurant, and private boxes. Upon reopening, the owners also reapplied for an NGRC licence. Granted ahead of the 1990 season, Sunderland made its second debut as an NGRC track on 6th June 1990.
From there, Sunderland has gone on to experience perhaps the most successful spell in its history, winning a lucrative BAGS contract before being taken over by William Hill at a cost of £9.4 million in 2002. Three years later in 2005, the quality of the new facility gained recognition, with Sunderland being crowned the Northern Greyhound Track of the Year.
Arena Racing Company
Moving closer to modern times, the stadium switched hands from William Hill to the Arena Racing Company in 2017, before signing a contract with its new owners to stage four meetings per week in 2018. Reintroducing its signature Grand Prix event in 2021, the track looks well placed to maintain its status as one of the top greyhound destinations in the north.