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History Vs. Money: The Last Days of Hollywood Park?

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Photo of a 2007 race at Hollywood Park by Patrick LA via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr

2008 is the 70th anniversary of Hollywood Park, a once grand-dame in the world of horse racing that may meet the fate of the bulldozer come next year. With racing not the draw it once was, the stands are often sparsely populated, and its home city of Inglewood has their eye on a more lucrative prize.

In place of the racetrack and facilities could be "a mixed-use commercial development is envisioned," Inglewood Councilman Daniel Tabor told the LA Times, for which the "proposal includes 600,000 square feet of commercial space, up to 27 acres of parkland, a refurbished casino and about 4,000 homes."

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Preservationists have already rallied to the cause, launching the website Save Hollywood Park, which urges people to reach out to "the City of Inglewood, local media, preservation groups, Hollywood Park management or whoever you may think can help," via letters, calls, and emails. With the Breeder's Cup slated to be held at Santa Anita for the next two years, they are using the logic that race fans arriving in Los Angeles county for the big event would also want to see the ponies fly at Hollywood Park. Right now, however, reports the Times, "the track's days are numbered, with a commitment from the park to have races at least though summer 2009."

Are we holding on to Hollywood Park because of what it means, or because of what it does? Many people have longstanding emotional ties to the place, citing regular visits over numerous years and a sense of tradition. While the structure was once a jewel in the racing world--"Architect Stiles O. Clements and landscape architect Edward Huntsman-Trout designed the Streamline Moderne style clubhouse in 1937. Fred Barlow, Jr. designed later additions," explains Save Hollywood Park's history page--the place known sometimes as the "Track of the Lakes and Flowers" thanks to its landscape design, might in theory be better used to generate revenue for Inglewood. Hollywood history buffs can boast that Jack L. Warner was the founder of the Turf Club, and dozens of luminaries from Hollywood's golden age once were shareholders.

So what is more powerful: History or Money?