ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Sunday marked the end of an era for greyhound dog racing in St. Pete when Derby Lane hosted its final live dog race in front of nearly 5,000 fans.
"It's sad to see it go because it was that place where people would come for years and years," race fan Kristen Redding said.
At 95 years old, Derby Lane is the oldest continuously operating greyhound track in the country. In 2001, it served as a filming location for the hit movie Ocean's Eleven featuring big stars like Brad Pitt and George Clooney. It was also featured in the 2015 film The Infiltrator with Bryan Cranston..
"It's an icon in Tampa Bay. You know you're in St. Pete when you cross Gandy Bridge and you see Derby Lane and you see the big neons Greyhound Racing," Derby Lane Director of Marketing Alexis Winning said.
For two years staff and fans have known this day was coming.
"You get to see the dogs run. You get to potentially win a little money. It's just like family and memories for me and I've always enjoyed it," race fan Chris Griffin said.
Back in 2018, Florida voters approved an amendment that will phase out live greyhound races statewide by 2021.
The sunshine state joins the majority of the country outlawing dog racing as it's become less popular with concern growing over the animal's welfare. Of the 300 or so dogs that race at Derby Lane, most all have now been adopted and have new homes.
"For us it's just sad and it's the livelihoods being taken away from people, but we know that all good things come to an end," Winning said.
The Poker Room and simulcast betting will still continue at Derby Lane. Staff say they've yet to decide future plans for the race track.