Commerce City buys Mile High Greyhound Park: There goes Rusty!

Commerce City is no longer going to the dogs. A few years ago, the industry-heavy town north of Denver thought it was in such need of a new image that it considered changing its name. Instead, it's now aggressively working on a physical makeover -- and has just purchased the former Mile High Greyhound Park.

"Here comes Rusty!" That was a familiar cry at the 65-acre park in the heart of the town, which held its inaugural race in 1949 and finally ended dog racing in 2008. The mechanical Rusty the Rabbit would start each heat.

"For more than sixty years, the Mile High Greyhound Park was a major landmark for Commerce City," says mayor pro tem Tracy Snyder, the vice chair of the Commerce City Urban Renewal Authority that purchased the property for $3.3 million this week. "As a lifelong resident, I remember when this location was overflowing with visitors from near and far."

To draw those visitors from near and far today, Commerce City has the national wildlife center that grew out of Rocky Mountain Arsenal, and events at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The URA hopes to have a plan for the former Mile High Greyhound Park project by 2012, and "encourages all residents and businesses to engage in the process, because we have a unique chance to make this area into something that will last a lifetime, an area that will redefine Commerce City for generations to come."

And what might that something be? We're particularly interested in hearing the thoughts of former mayor Sean Ford, the straight-talker who opposed the 2007 effort to change his town's name. "If you have an ugly girlfriend and she changes her name, she is still ugly," he said at the time. "Changing the name doesn't change anything."

What pretty project should Commerce City be pushing now? Post your suggestions below. (And no fair suggesting a new home for the National Western Stock Show: It's looking for 300 acres..)

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "JonBenét Ramsey murder: Would the media have been obsessed with it if she'd been black?"

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