Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Suffolk Downs Unveils Development Concepts

EAST BOSTON, MA - Bolstered by the potential of creating thousands of new jobs and enhancing the regional economy, Suffolk Downs today unveiled preliminary development concepts that would transform the historic Boston racetrack into a world class, resort-style entertainment and gaming complex, should the Commonwealth approve expanded gaming at the site.

The first phase of the resort-style development at the track’s 163-acre property in East Boston and Revere, including major renovation of the existing grandstand structure and new construction of a hotel-restaurant-retail complex, would immediately create an estimated 1,500-2,000 construction jobs and 2,250 permanent jobs, while preserving 1,500 existing jobs and thousands of acres of open space in the state by revitalizing Thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts. Track officials have also begun to solicit local community input and as a result have started the process of developing and implementing a comprehensive local transportation and infrastructure improvement plan for the area.

The phased development plan would begin with renovation of the existing 800,000-square foot facility in East Boston, including major construction projects within the current grandstand and clubhouse areas while preserving the one-mile racetrack. The facility would be transformed into a multi-faceted entertainment venue, with the addition of upscale restaurants, shops and expanded gaming offerings along with a greatly enhanced live racing and simulcasting experience.

Concurrent with renovation of the existing facility, Suffolk Downs officials propose to begin construction of a low-rise luxury hotel, spa and fitness facility and additional restaurants, nightclubs and gaming space in a traditional New England coastal resort-style complex that evokes turn of the century architecture of the area.

“As a popular destination for entertainment and gaming for the last 75 years, our vision positions Suffolk Downs as the region’s premier resort-style entertainment and gaming destination for the next 75 years,” said Richard T. Fields, principal owner of Suffolk Downs. “As the Legislature and the Governor work to finalize their approach on expanded gaming, our ownership is prepared to immediately invest hundreds of millions of dollars to create a development that will produce thousands of good jobs, enhance the area’s strong tourism base, generate revenue for the state and neighboring communities while preserving New England’s last remaining Thoroughbred racetrack.”

In the spring of 2007, Fields joined local entrepreneur Joe O’Donnell in a partnership committed to Thoroughbred racing and the long-term future of Suffolk Downs. In 2008, Suffolk Downs partnered with Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere to pursue future gaming development.

“Our vision includes not only the generation of thousands of new jobs, but it also preserves the jobs of the hard-working men and women who have remained loyal to Suffolk Downs in difficult circumstances,” said Suffolk Downs’ Chairman of the Board Bill Mulrow.

Built by 3,000 workers in just 62 days, Suffolk Downs has been a licensed gaming and entertainment destination in the state since 1935. Currently, its trained staff handles $200 million in wagering on an annual basis. Over the course of the year, the track sustains an estimated 2,334 jobs in the horse racing industry statewide, with about 1,500 workers at the track itself.

“Suffolk Downs has been a responsible neighbor for generations,” said Suffolk Downs’ Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle. “We are committed to a comprehensive, transparent public process that will address key community issues like traffic, infrastructure and public safety. In addition to the jobs that would be created and the revenue that would be generated for the state, Suffolk Downs is committed to spending millions of dollars with Massachusetts-based businesses for the daily operation of the facility and developing programs to enhance local businesses in conjunction with our proposed development.”

“The family of workers and horsemen at Suffolk Downs appreciates the leadership that Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Assistant Majority Leader Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Representative Carlo Basile and the other members of the local legislative delegation have shown over the last several months to recognize the unique economic contribution that Suffolk Downs and the Thoroughbred racing industry make in the Commonwealth.”

Over the years, Suffolk Downs has hosted some of the world’s greatest Thoroughbred racehorses, including Seabiscuit, Whirlaway and Cigar. It is the only remaining Thoroughbred racetrack in New England, conducting 100 days of live racing from May to November.

In addition to its rich racing tradition, Suffolk Downs has a long history as an entertainment venue frequently hosting events up to 20,000 including the MassCap, the Greater Boston Walk Now for Autism and the Hot Dog Safari. In 1966, the track hosted the Beatles for what would prove to be their final Boston concert appearance. Numerous other renowned musical performers have taken the stage at the track, including Aerosmith, Elvis Costello and Kool & The Gang. Internationally known Cirque du Soleil has made extended engagements at Suffolk Downs on several occasions in the last decade.

Suffolk Downs supports the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling and was the first track in the state to establish an employee-training program with the Council, dedicated to ensuring responsible wagering. Suffolk Downs is also a founding member of the Partnership for Responsible Gambling.

Facts about Suffolk Downs:

· Founded in 1935, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year
· Situated on 163 acres in East Boston and Revere
· Located close to Logan Airport, several major highways and MBTA
· 800,000 square feet of space in its existing facility
· 100 days of live racing from May-November
· Possesses current occupancy permits for 38,000 people
· Has option to purchase Wonderland and combine gaming rights at Suffolk Downs site
· Thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs helps preserve 16,000 acres of open space in MA
· Its trained staff processes more than $200 million in wagering on annual basis

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