FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 8: Benny Feilhaber #22 of the New England Revolution passes the ball by Chris Wondolowski #8 of the San Jose Earthquakes in the second half at Gillette Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Yesterday, Sean Donahue of New England Soccer Today mentioned that the Revolution to Wonderland may still be possible. Donahue, using Thor Jourgensen of Lynn, MA's The Daily Item article on Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo's push for redevelopment of the old Wonderland race-track, indicated that the Revs to Revere talks may be, at least superficially, back underway.
Wonderland, once a primary source of revenue for Revere, has sat unused since August 19, 2010. Other than Revere Beach, it once was a major draw for tourists to the City of Revere. So it is no surprise that Rizzo, having been sworn in as Revere's Mayor on January 2nd of this year, would like to see it used for more than MBTA parking.
Back on May 3, 2011, The Indirect Kick reported that the then-Mayoral Candidate and City Councilor At-Large had passing discussions with Jonathan Kraft about the use of the abandoned Wonderland Racetrack as a possibility for a Revolution soccer-specific-stadium. Nothing seemed to come of it.
Now that Rizzo is Mayor, the Revolution has reorganized its front office, and Wonderland has been vacant for nearly two years, the idea of a Revolution stadium seems logical. However, there are other possibilities for the Wonderland location. In Jourgensen's article, he mentions that:
[Rizzo] also said the site could accommodate an arts and cultural center or even be a potential future home for the New England Revolution soccer team.
This, in the end, is a location situated to bring revenue to the City of Revere. The city is not just going to leave it vacant until the Revolution put the right package together, especially if there are other investors out there. And indeed investors are interested in turning Wonderland into something different than a soccer-specific-stadium. On December 21, 2011 Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs in East Boston, stated interest in turning the Wonderland area into a casino.
Ironically, partially standing in his way is Revolution and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Kraft and casino mogul Steve Wynn would like to build a casino in Foxborough. Due to their locations, Foxborough and Revere are in the same designated region, so only one could actually have a casino in it. This leaves the possibility of a soccer stadium still open --thanks to Kraft.
Yet, how much of this newest news is real and how much is political posturing? After all Jourgensen's article states
Rizzo said he exchanged e-mails about that idea with representatives for the New England Patriots and Revolution owner Robert Kraft and his family, but called the exchanges "informative at this point.
This leads to the probability that there have been no specific calls or questions between higher ups in the City of Revere and the Kraft Group. It could just be Rizzo using the Krafts as a way to either drive up the price or to drum up other potential investors.
Either way, sitting well past the 12-24 month groundbreaking for a Revolution stadium that Jonathan Kraft mentioned on the DA Show in December of 2010, most people are taking every mention of a stadium with a heaping mound of salt.
Wonderland seems a well enough --if not ideally-- suited location. It is closer to Boston than Foxborough. It is on the MBTA's Blue Line, which has plans of expanding past Revere into Lynn and possibly on into Salem. For a league that plays in the summer, being located next to a beach could possibly help attendance. Plus the idea of a stadium march from Revere Beach, or one of the local bars surrounding the beach, is intriguing.
However, with a new mayor promising things to appeal to a base that needs jobs and tax income, this, like so many other political promises, may end up nothing more than political posturing with nothing ever coming from it.