A deal for Suffolk Downs could close as early as May

A deal for Suffolk Downs could close as early as May

Chip Bott

Suffolk Downs Files Paperwork for Racetrack Sale

Track could go to Boston area real estate developer.

The owners of Suffolk Downs have sent a document to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission asking for formal approval of the sale of the property to a major Boston-based real estate development company. The commissioners will begin to address the matter at a hearing March 22 in Boston.  

Though the gaming commission's legal department denied a request for a copy of the document, Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, confirmed to BloodHorse that the required paperwork has been filed. 

"We have sent a letter to the gaming commission requesting its formal approval of the sale of the property to the McClellan Highway Development Company, which is a subsidiary of the HYM Investment Group, one of the Boston area's premier development companies," he said.

The purchase price for the 161-acre property located within the adjacent cities of East Boston and Revere, Mass. was not disclosed. The deal could close as early as May.

Nontheless, Tuttle maintains that although Suffolk Downs will have a new owner, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC will retain its license for live racing and simulcasting in 2017 and 2018.

"As part of the sale we have an agreement with the buyer to lease back the facility for racing and simulcasting in 2017 and in 2018. We will race in 2017 and 2018. We are holding onto the license," Tuttle reiterated. 

Suffolk Downs is scheduled to race six days in 2017—July 8-9, Aug. 5-6, and Sept. 2-3. 

The matter of the sale of the track is among 28 agenda items for the MGC's March 22 meeting. An MGC spokesperson said the item will not be discussed "in any meaningful way, other than to confirm that it will be on the regular bi-weekly public meeting agenda for March 30."

All relative documentation must be filed with the MGC by March 30 and will not be made public until the morning of the meeting.

The approval of the MGC is required to sell the property because Suffolk Downs is the current licensee. That rule is part of old Massachusetts racing statutes dating to when legislators figured that any buyer of the property would be operating the facility as a racetrack. 

HYM Investment Group has developed some of the largest scale projects in Boston in recent years, and it is led by Tom O'Brien, the former head of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The racetrack property is considered to be one of the most valuable parcels of undeveloped land on the Eastern Seaboard. It is located close to Logan International Airport, is less than one mile from the Atlantic Ocean, and is situated between two stops on the city's public transport system.

Any demolition of the clubhouse and grandstand or the main track and turf course would not begin until after the 2018 live racing season.