Boston and Suffolk Downs Casino Talks Struggling, Could Impact Revolution Stadium

Dominic/Wikimedia Commons

The Revolution's chances of a stadium in Revere could be taking a major hit as casino site owners Suffolk Downs are apparently well apart in negotiations with the city of Boston.

Some problematic news regarding the Suffolk Downs casino proposal was reported by Mark Arsenault in the Boston Globe this morning. Apparently two of the three parties - Suffolk Downs/Caesar's and the city of Boston - are "miles apart" on how much money the casino developers will pay to the city, an essential part of the deal under the gaming legislation.

What does that mean for the New England Revolution? Well, it means everything. The proposed site of the new Revs stadium was the Wonderland dog track in Revere, which is owned by Suffolk Downs. When the idea of a Revolution stadium in Revere was floated last year, the idea was that Revere would take the casino payments from the Suffolk Downs casino and use them to help purchase Wonderland, and help Bob Kraft finance a stadium at the site.

However, if Boston and Suffolk Downs don't come to an agreement, the casino never gets to Suffolk Downs. If that happens, then the main mechanism for Wonderland to end up a stadium site is gone; it's unclear and unlikely that an alternative will present itself.

The reason why Boston is involved in the mix despite the fact that Revere is where the Revolution stadium is that Suffolk Downs itself straddles Revere and East Boston. Therefore, under the current application process, the casino developers have to reach agreements with each municipality on plans and finances, and also pass a public referendum.

Negotiations with Revere appear to be complete.

News like this is bad for the Revolution, even from a bargaining standpoint. The approval of a casino plan wouldn't guarantee a stadium, of course. However, the more likely it appears that a casino will end up at Suffolk Downs, the more firm the possibility of that stadium becomes. When the Revs are talking with other towns - like, say, Somerville - it helps their position to be able to say "you know, we don't have to be here." Hearing that Suffolk Downs' casino bid might be on the skids will prompt Somerville representatives to reply "where else are you going to go?"

Suffolk Downs now has serious competition from Steve Wynn and the town of Everett, as well as Foxwoods and the town of Milford. If they can't get on the same page as the city of Boston, this could be a serious set-back for the Revs' stadium chances in the area.

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