Portland Meadows Is Closing for Good

Big changes are coming for the historic racetrack, slated to close in June.

By Jackson Main March 29, 2019

A permit application involving “initial phase redevelopment” of the 63.65-acre parcel that’s home to racetrack Portland Meadows was filed Wednesday, March 20, according to city records.

A call to the track confirms the 2018–19 racing season, which wrapped in February, will be its last. No one could be reached for official comment. 

The information filed with the city mentions an “urban logistics facility” and “possible land division … in order to divide the property into a one-building-per-lot configuration.” This could mean the track will be replaced by large-scale shipping and warehouse facilities.

Portland Meadows, opened in 1946, has long been the home of horse racing and off-track betting in the Rose City. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the track hosted some legendary concerts, including Van Halen, Megadeath, Metallica, and Pearl Jam. In recent years it’s attracted a crowd for marquee events like its Kentucky Derby party, with live music, food carts, and sometimes on-site racing. A scaled-down Turf Club Buffet is on the calendar for May 4 this year.

In 2013, the track underwent massive rebranding efforts spearheaded by local creative agency  OMFGCO, the same agency behind such groovy hubs as the Ace Hotel and Stumptown Coffee. In 2016, it was a filming location for Lean on Pete, based on a novel by Willy Vlautin (also a musician with Richmond Fontaine and the Delines). Rebranding efforts and silver-screen notoriety aside, horse racing’s nationwide popularity has declined in recent years. In 2017, the track briefly lost its state video lottery license for operating illegal poker rooms.

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