Jobs, Nostalgia Drive Suffolk Downs Casino Bid

An architectural rendering of the proposed Resort at Suffolk Downs

An architectural rendering of the proposed Resort at Suffolk Downs

The owners of Suffolk Downs have unveiled their design for a $1 billion resort casino at the 77-year-old horse racetrack. The developers say it would create 2,500 union construction jobs and another 4,000 permanent jobs, also union.

With spitting rain and a brisk cool breeze pushing the infield flag stiffly out toward the harbor, Suffolk Downs officials moved their press conference inside the grandstand Tuesday. Thoroughbreds trotted up and down the straightaway for show as Richard Fields, the racetrack’s principal owner, unveiled to the public for the first time artist renderings of the long-planned development.

Fields described it as “what would be a mecca for entertainment and gaming for all of Boston and Revere.”

The pictures show the entrance to Suffolk Downs, a 300-room, nine-story hotel, curved, not quite as rounded as a horseshoe. The ground floor has restaurants and shops and the casino. It would run up to 5,000 slot machines and 200 table games. Behind it, a tree-lined walk leads to a new, bigger grandstand overlooking the racetrack.

Boston architect David Manfredi explained the idea.

“We envision an urban oasis,” Manfredi said. “A mecca of entertainment, of hospitality, of gaming, restaurants, shops. It is that mix that will make it very special and make it very urban.”

An architectural rendering of the proposed Resort at Suffolk Downs

An architectural rendering of the proposed Resort at Suffolk Downs

The urban neighbors around the site — which is about a half-mile square — have to say yes before Suffolk Downs could even bid for a casino license. And there is already organized opposition in East Boston. Hence, the promotional video played at the press conference.

“Where else, but Suffolk Downs?,” goes the refrain.

The racetrack is teaming up with Caesars Entertainment of Las Vegas.

“Most important thing to consider when you’re building a facility like this, a gaming facility, is you want to be where you’re wanted,” said Ceasars CEO Gary Loveman. “And I think the debate in this state recently has shown that trying to go where you’re perhaps less than welcome is not a great way to proceed.”

Other proposed casinos — most prominently in Foxborough, but also recently in Lakeville and Freetown — have failed to win the support of local residents.

At the press conference, the crowd was partisan: in favor.

“I’m a bartender here!” said Francine DiMaria, who works at the track. She joined union tradesman and horse racing industry folks at the press conference in applauding the proposal.

“Jobs for everybody, that’s the main thing,” DiMaria said. “Because people are in tough times now. You know I’m lucky I have my job. Plus, I don’t have to get the bus to go to Foxwoods all the time.”

An architectural rendering of the lobby in the proposed Resort at Suffolk Downs

An architectural rendering of the lobby in the proposed Resort at Suffolk Downs

Suffolk Downs has been working for years to get the support of local groups. But as the proposal takes shape, so do worries about traffic congestion and other problems.

“Clearly the traffic issue is something that has to be addressed,” said Diane Modica, head of the East Boston Chamber of Commerce. It’s in favor of the casino, partly because of a promise from the developers to spend $40 million improving Route 1A and a number of intersections in East Boston, Revere and Chelsea.

“There’s actually going to be traffic improvements that frankly would not have happened otherwise,” Modica said. “No one’s going to put $40 million on the table — no matter what they build here — unless it’s people here with deep pockets like this casino and Suffolk Downs.

The Suffolk Downs developers said they’ll explain more about their traffic mitigation plans in the coming days.

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  • X-Ray

    They are proposing to but a huge hotel in line with and just off the end of the two largest parallel runways running into Boston’s Logan International Airport?  That doesn’t seem like a good idea from a noise or safety viewpoint.

  • Buymotor

    Nice project!
    Good luck…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_N7VOTY7WU62AHDAGWR6HBGJ64Y ThomasB

    One of the radio stations did a poll this week and for what its worth, the public was opposing it by a count of two to one (70% against, 30% for). Oblivious to this fact, the Mayor sounds a lot like Deval Patrick when the latter said, in 2007, casinos would

    1.      generate $2 billion for the state economy and
    2.      add $400 million in annual casino revenue and
    3.      $200 million in fees per license to the state coffers as well as
    4.      add $50 million to $80 million in sales, meal, and hotel taxes.

    Patrick also said that casinos would create 30,000 construction jobs and 20,000 permanent jobs and  that the revenue generated could be spent

    1.      to beef up local law enforcement,
    2.      create a state gambling regulatory agency,
    3.      repair roads and bridges ($200 million),
    4.      gambling addiction treatment ($50 million) and
    5.      the remainder would go towards property tax relief.

    (its amazing what a sledgehammer to the kneecap can doisnt it?).

    We all saw what happened to Sal DiMasi when he shot that one down, so noone should fault Mumbles for going against public opinion (and common sense).
    Yes East Boston has just been sold, and maggots will have their usual feeding frenzy before things go back to normal. 

    If you want to know why Suffolk Downs hasn’t been doing well lately, and how it will be when the latest crop of maggots fly away to the next carcass, maybe you should have a look at a book called “My Life in the Mafia” by Vincent Teresa.

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything, but as usual this has been the wrong way to cash in on addictions. Just as some people shouldn’t drink, or drug, or smoke, or drive cars for that matter, so too some people shouldn’t gamble and unfortunately, you will never see a valid study that says that any of these glitzy casinos can make a dime in profits without the problem gamblers.

    If you really want to bring in more money than goes out, build a high-roller casino into Fort Independence and make it off limits to locals.

  • Eastie Resident

    Nostalgia? This will NOT be Suffolk Downs. It will be Caesars. Horse racing will be dead in a few years and all that will be left is the casino. SD is capitalizing on “77 years of history” to sell this casino, but this monstrosity will have no resemblance to the track of yesteryear.

    If you live in the Boston area and are against the casino, please sign this petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/we-don-t-want-a-casino-in-boston

    Then go share it with others. Thanks!

    • Mike

      haha are you serious? Why would anyone want the “track of yesteryear”. The place was built in the 30s in like 3 months…and it shows. The floor isn’t even level, it’s like they poured concrete over the dirt that was there and let it flow wherever it wanted.

      Horse racing WILL be dead in a few years in Massachusetts if nothing is done. This is exactly the kind of project that will bring the attention that the sport deserves.

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