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Aug 31, 2016 6:01 PM

Salem's Rockingham Park closes after 110 years in operation

SALEM — The historic Rockingham Park closed for good Wednesday after 110 years in operation.

"I've been coming here for 50 years, I'm going to miss it," said Charlie Kummal.

Rockingham was the first horse racing track built in New England, but racers included Olympic runners and motorcyclists.

The famed horse "Seabiscuit" even rounded the track early in his career.

But the current general manager said the park just couldn't compete after years of defeat by the legislature to expand gambling.

"There were facilities up and down the East Coast with alternative forms of gaming and we were just never fortunate to have that," said Ed Callahan.

The announcement that the park would close came in spring of 2016. At the time there were about 200 employees. Many have since left, but the end of an era brings some uncertainty.

"Some are retiring, some are going to other jobs, some are going to the unemployment line," Callahan said.

The area has been purchased by a local developer that plans to built more than 200 housing units, a movie theater and retail shops.

The drastic change of a century old park isn't settling well with everyone.

"We've got enough malls, we've got enough condos," said Vincent Gedaminsky, a 44 year fan of Rockingham Park. "The Rock was unique."

An auction will be held September 24th and 25th so people can purchase memorabilia and signs dating back to Rockingham Park's heyday.

"There will be a lot of people out there who will be able to have a piece of The Rock and I think that will make them happy," Callahan said.

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