Suffolk Downs ... and out
Property sale to developer will end racing after 2018
The state Gaming Commission has approved the sale of Suffolk Downs to a Boston real estate development company, possibly marking the end of thoroughbred racing in the region after 2018.
“It marks the end of an era, but we’ve known for several years that it was not economically feasible to continue live racing operations absent expanded gaming at the property,” Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle told the Herald in an email. “We’re looking forward to racing and simulcasting in 2017 and 2018 and we are confident that the new owners will work with the cities of Boston and Revere to create a world-class development here.”
The sale of the 161-acre East Boston property from Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC to the McClellan Highway Development Co. LLC, managed by an affiliate of Boston-based The HYM Investment Group, is expected to close April 27, according to the seller’s letter to the MGC seeking approval. The letter states the sale price will not be discussed until after closing.
A proposed Mohegan Sun casino at the track lost a bid for the sole Greater Boston casino license in 2014 to Wynn Resorts, which is constructing a $2 billion gaming resort in Everett, paving the way for the sale of the once-iconic racetrack.
Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby told the Herald the new owner does not plan to continue live thoroughbred racing at the site beyond the six race dates planned for 2017 and likely another series of live races in 2018. The latter, Crosby said, is not “absolutely certain.”
“After 2018, there won’t be any thoroughbred racing unless somebody is able to come together with a strategy and a plan to find a location and keep it going,” Crosby said, noting the lack of racing will result in a significant economic loss.
“There are pretty substantial investments around the commonwealth by people who have some aspect of a thoroughbred business, horse farms, stables, people who provide hay for horses, veterinarians, blacksmiths,” he said. “There is a significant industry that would like to continue the thoroughbred racing.
“It will be a hit,” he added, “and it will certainly be a significant hit to the people directly involved in the industry.”
The Gaming Commission filed a bill in the legislature that would give the commission the ability to manage revenue streams associated with horse racing, which could allow it to help bring interested parties together to establish a new racing site in the state, Crosby said, but the bill has not yet been passed.
Crosby noted Plainridge Park, which hosts harness racing, has increased its revenue and live events. The Plainville casino has 125 racing days planned for 2017 and handled nearly $54 million in live and simulcast racing wagers in 2016, according to a presentation before the MGC yesterday, and employed 52 people in the racing field last year.