The old Rocky Mountain Greyhound Park on North Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs, shuttered for years after being a longtime home for dog racing and off-track betting, has a new user.

Copart Inc., a Dallas-based company that conducts online auctions of wrecked and damaged vehicles, is leasing portions of the 17-acre site at 3701 N. Nevada Ave. for storage of vehicles. Copart also has a Denver facility and about 160 locations in the United States and Canada.

Company representatives didn't respond to calls and emails. In a news release, it said it conducted its first Springs auction last week, which featured 430 vehicles. Another auction with about 230 vehicles is scheduled next week, according to Copart's website.

Copart was launched in 1982; the company takes vehicles that have been totaled or damaged, and resells them to buyers on behalf of insurance companies, auto dealers and car rental agencies, according to business publication Dun & Bradstreet.

The vehicles typically are purchased by licensed dismantlers, rebuilders, used-vehicle dealers, exporters and individual users, documents submitted to the city's Land Use Review Division show.

Auctions take place online, and buyers pick up their vehicles at Copart's storage facilities. In the case of the former Rocky Mountain Greyhound Park, vehicles are being stored in parking lots at the site.

Vehicles stored on-site aren't dismantled, crushed or stacked, and typically remain on-site for 60 to 70 days before they're sold or moved, according to the Land Use Review Division documents.

The Rocky Mountain Greyhound Park's history dates to 1949, after state voters legalized horse and dog racing gambling a year earlier, Gazette archives show.

Once a popular venue for bettors, interest in greyhound racing waned as other forms of gambling took hold in Colorado; small-stakes wagering was approved by state voters in 1990 in Cripple Creek and two other mountain towns. Dog and horse tracks around the country have suffered similar fates over the last several decades.

Rocky Mountain Greyhound closed for good as a racing venue in 2005, although off-track betting took place for a few years until the facility closed for good in 2008.

Over the last several years, the park has housed a handful of industrial users, said Rich Kelly, owner of Trend Commercial Real estate, which markets the property for a local investment group that bought the facility in 2009.

Waste Management used the facility as a storage site for dumpsters, Kelly said. Sysco Foods, meanwhile, previously operated a truck terminal at the park - bringing tractor-trailers loaded with food items from its Denver warehouse and transferring the products to trucks, which delivered them to restaurants and grocery stores.

DMZ Airsoft operates combat games - using plastic pellet guns - inside the park's former grandstand.

Like other users, Copart is leasing its space at the park, Kelly said; he declined to say how long the lease runs, but added Copart is "expected to be there for a while."

The property is zoned for industrial uses, so Copart's operation "is a real good use for the property," Kelly said. "They're happy there."

City officials have targeted North Nevada - from roughly Fillmore Street to Garden of the Gods Road - for upgrades; two years ago, a committee appointed by then-Mayor Steve Bach produced a report suggesting potential improvements for the area.

The panel's report cited the aging, deteriorating greyhound park as "a major issue" that must be addressed as part of Nevada's future.

Rob Oldach, a vice president of CSI Construction in Colorado Springs and co-chairman of the North Nevada committee, said Copart's operation sounds as if it could be a transitional use until increased property values in the area make it worthwhile for someone to redevelop the park.

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Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228

Twitter: @richladen

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