Artist rendering of the planned upgrade of the clubhouse and grandstand at Suffolk Downs.

Artist rendering of the planned upgrade of the clubhouse and grandstand at Suffolk Downs.

Courtesy Suffolk Downs

Suffolk Releases Details of Planned Upgrades

Improvement plan tied to winning license for destination casino.

Suffolk Downs Oct. 24 released details of a $40 million "racing improvement plan" tied to its bid for a destination casino license.

Company officials held a press conference at Indian Rock Stables, a Thoroughbred breeding farm in Saugus, Mass.

Proposed improvements include modernization of the clubhouse and grandstand, including dining areas; upgraded box seats; renovated simulcast viewing areas with "the latest audio/visual and wagering" technology; a new lounge for owners and trainers; replacement of the tote board and addition of a jumbo outdoor video screen; an upgraded sound system; a "computerized global positioning system to chart races"; an enhanced picnic area; and improvements to the paddock and winner's circle.

On the backside, Suffolk Downs plans to build new dormitories, a new track kitchen hall, and new recreation hall. Existing barns would get new roofs, sprinkler systems, and upgraded water service.

The one-mile dirt track would be resurfaced; a new turf course would be installed; rails would be replaced on the dirt and turf courses; and surface draining systems would be updated.

"We have been steadfast in our commitment to Thoroughbred racing, and this plan illustrates the broad range of racing-related improvements that will greatly enhance the experience of our customers while also appealing to our horsemen and women who work and compete here," Richard Fields, principal owner of Suffolk Downs, said in a release.

"If we are successful in earning a gaming license, we will be looking to schedule more special events and enhance our racing program with the return of the Massachusetts Handicap and an open stakes program, and these improvements to our facility would allow us to do so in a way that would best serve our customers and our horsemen and women," Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said.

New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association president Anthony Spadea said the organization was able to offer feedback, some of which was used to devise the racing improvement plan.

Suffolk Downs is having discussions with several gaming operators to partner on its casino project. Its original partner, Caesars Entertainment, was asked to back away after a background check by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

The communities of East Boston and Revere will vote Nov. 5 on whether to allow casino gambling at Suffolk Downs, which has been operating in the area for 78 years. If the vote goes the track's way, then it must win a battle among three companies seeking the resort casino license for the Boston area.