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End of an Era: Hollywood Park Racetrack to Close This Year

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75 years of racing at Hollywood Park will come to its own finish line this year when the racetrack closes down for good this December.

The facility will be turned into new housing and retail by its owner, reports the Associated Press.

"From an economic point of view, the land now simply has a higher and better use, so, unfortunately, racing will not continue here once the 2013 autumn meet is completed," said Hollywood Park president Jack Liebau in a letter announcing the closure, reports

Hollywood Park opened in 1938 as the Hollywood Turf Club. Among its founding members and shareholders were several movie biz luminaries, including Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Walt Disney, and Chairman Jack L. Warner of Warner Bros. Studios. In its opening year, Seabiscuit took the win in the inaugural running of the Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park.

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The park closed during World War II when it was used for storage from 1942 to 1944. In 1949, a fire forced the track to close for a season.

In 1984, Hollywood Park hosted the inaugural Breeders' Cup.

Some of the land was sold in 2005 with plans to build the Inglewood Renaissance housing development. Last year, the company Betfair took over operations of the racetrack in the hopes of modernizing operations and boosting business, however Liebau says people just aren't coming to the track and placing bets.

The casino on the property will continue to operate as part of the new development. The historic track will be transformed into "3,000 new housing units, including single-family townhomes and condos; 25 acres of parkland, including a 10-acre central park; and a retail and entertainment district, anchored by a movie theatre, office space and a 300-room hotel."

Liebau says Hollywood Park lasted "longer than anticipated" but the new development is "going to be a major change as far as Inglewood is concerned."

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The last race at Hollywood Park will be run December 22. Construction for the development will begin pretty much at the start of the new year.