While there are no guarantees, the door has been left open for Suffolk Downs to continue to offer a limited number of live racing days beyond the 2017 season.
During a meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission Nov. 10, in which the track’s request to host six days of racing during the summer of 2017 was unanimously approved 5-0, the possibility of the track remaining open was discussed.
Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle testified that plans for the redevelopment or possible sale of the property are taking longer than the ownership group initially expected. Tuttle added, “Unless there is a radical change, we may apply for dates in 2018.”
Tuttle acknowledged that although the six-day meets the track ran in 2016 and will host in 2017 are not ideal for everyone involved, Suffolk’s continued operation as a racetrack allows people to remain employed and provides benefits to the company.
Those benefits include simulcasting rights. Under state law, as long as the track fulfills its obligation to run from one to 50 days of live Thoroughbred racing, it retains those rights.
The ownership group of Suffolk Downs announced two years ago that live racing would no longer be economically feasible and the 2014 meet would be its last in the wake of the MGC’s decision to award the lone Boston-area casino license to Wynn Resorts rather than to the track’s gaming partner, Mohegan Sun.
Nonetheless, Suffolk ran three days in 2015 and a six-day meet in 2016. The track will host a trio of two-day weekend racing festivals in 2017 July 8-9, Aug. 5-6, and Sept. 2-3 and the daily purse distribution will average $500,000, which is the same as in 2016.
The $2 billion Wynn Boston Harbor casino project is under construction on a site only two miles from Suffolk’s stable gate, and is scheduled to open in June 2019.