Split Vote Has Suffolk Eyeing New Proposal

Split Vote Has Suffolk Eyeing New Proposal
Photo: Courtesy of Suffolk Downs
Artist rendering of the planned upgrade of the clubhouse and grandstand at Suffolk Downs.

Suffolk Downs hasn't abandoned its pursuit of a resort casino even though East Boston voters rejected the plan by a 56%-44% margin in a Nov. 5 referendum.

The racetrack is in an unusual situation in that about 100 acres of its property, including where the casino would have been built, is located in East Boston. But about 50 acres are located in Revere, a neighboring community in which voters passed the casino measure by a 61%-39% margin.

In 2008 Suffolk Downs majority owner Richard Fields announced a "partnership agreement" with Wonderland Greyhound Park, which is located in Revere, just north of the Thoroughbred track. The deal as announced permits the two entities to "share in future development."

Wonderland shut down after Greyhound racing was ruled illegal in a statewide referendum. The bulk of the Suffolk Downs property in Revere is used for the barn area.

When asked whether Suffolk Downs can change its master plan to build a casino in Revere at either site, track chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said: "We're working on it."

In an earlier statement, Tuttle said the track would have to "reassess our plans" based on the election results.

"On behalf of the hundreds of volunteers, supporters and employees of Suffolk Downs, we want to thank the people of Revere for their overwhelming vote of confidence in our project," the statement read. "We believe that the people of Revere voted for jobs and a boost to their economy.

"We thank the people of East Boston for allowing us to state our case for thousands of jobs for local residents and we appreciate the support we received."

According to published reports, Suffolk Downs has until the end of this year to have an alternative casino plan in place.

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