Revere Continues Work on Mitigation Agreement, Expects Signing This Week

August 28, 2013
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Boston Mayor Tom Menino signs the Boston casino agreement with Suffolk Downs on Tuesday.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino signs the Boston casino agreement
with Suffolk Downs on Tuesday.

Revere continues to work on its host community agreement this week – comparing it to the Boston agreement signed on Tuesday – and is expected to hold a signing ceremony by the end of the week.

As Mayor Tom Menino signed the most lucrative host community agreement to date in the state on Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Dan Rizzo was behind closed doors at City Hall comparing and contrasting the Boston agreement with the preliminary Revere agreement.

“Mayor Rizzo has congratulated Boston on signing its host community agreement and he’s busy working on Revere’s agreement,” said spokesman Miles Lang-Kennedy Tuesday afternoon. “We hope to have our host community agreement in place as soon as possible. The mayor is currently reviewing the Boston host community agreement and wants to make sure that Revere gets a great mitigation package. Before we sign it, we’re just trying to make sure we get what we need.”

The Boston agreement was quite lengthy, more than 130 pages long, and required a good deal of compare and contrast.

Suffolk Downs Chief Operation Officer Chip Tuttle said on Tuesday at Boston City Hall that he expects to have similar signing ceremony at Revere City Hall before the end of the week.

“We’ve been in good dialogue with the Mayor and have had a framework in place for several weeks on an agreement that will deliver substantial benefits to the City of Revere and its residents,” he said. “We look forward to wrapping up that process in the next couple of days.”

Mayor Rizzo and his negotiation team had finished their agreement negotiations quite some time ago, and had been waiting on Boston to finish their lengthy talks – talks that grew laborious and led some to believe that an agreement might be out of reach. It was particularly frustrating for Revere, as the City had been waiting for quite a while on what seemed to be a growing precipice of concern.

Mayor Rizzo had actually expressed such sentiments publicly recently, saying he didn’t know what was taking Boston so long and that he was growing frustrated with his colleague to the south.

All that was erased on Tuesday when Menino delivered an agreement that was extremely lucrative to East Boston – particularly when compared to Everett’s host community agreement with the Wynn Group.

Overall, Boston would be projected to get $52 million in annual payments – payments that include property taxes and impact fees – if the casino reaches its goal of $1 billion in gross gaming revenues.

While the City of Boston did tout the projections of $52 million annually, those payments are actually tied to the performance of the casino and could be less than that amount. However, the Boston said it would never receive less than $32 million annually.

For example, if the resort reaches its projected gross gaming revenues of $1 billion, the City of Boston would receive $52 million. If the resort were to reach $1.2 million in gross gaming revenues, the City would receive $80 million.

On the flip side, if gross gaming revenues came in below $1 billion, the City would receive less than $52 million. However, Boston has negotiated a floor payment of $32 million.

There is expected to be a similar payment structure to this in the anticipated Revere agreement – where payments are tied to the performance of the casino rather than fixed annual payments.

In Everett, they will get annual payments of $25.5 million per year, which includes $20 million in tax payments and $5 million in annual impact fees. They also negotiated a $30 million one-time community payment.

The Boston agreement was particularly kind to Eastie in the same category.

The community will be the beneficiary of a one-time community payment of $33.4 million that has been negotiated and would go directly to Eastie for use in projects that include a brand new state of the art youth and senior citizen community center – as well as other projects.

Additionally, to continue mitigating the impacts of the casino on East Boston, a community trust has been set up that would receive guaranteed payments of $20 million annually just for Eastie projects.

In other Eastie news, Suffolk Downs has committed to spending $50 million annually on goods and services in Boston, with $5 million of that dedicated to Eastie businesses.

On the job front for both communities, there are 2,500 projected construction jobs. There are 4,000 projected permanent jobs at the completion date of the project, with 800 permanent jobs one year prior to opening.

There is a stipulation that says 50 percent of those hired have to be Boston residents – which might not go over so well in Revere unless the other 50 percent have to be from here.

To ensure the project is completed in a reasonable amount of time that gives maximum benefit, with the least amount of inconvenience for residents, the agreement commits to an early opening 14 months from start of construction, with a full opening after an additional 12 months.

A description of the entire project at the press conference Tuesday detailed two distinct gaming areas providing 150,000 to 250,000 sq. ft. of gaming space. There would also be at least one World Series of Poker room, two luxury hotels with a total of 450 rooms, between 24,000 and 46,000 sq. ft. of meeting and entertainment space, between 1,700 and 2,600 sq. ft. of various dining spaces, and up to 30,000 sq. ft. of retail space (including a spa).

There would also be a seven-story parking garage with up to 2,600 spaces, valet for 460 vehicles and 2,100 surface parking spaces.

A referendum vote has to take place in Eastie within 60 to 90 days from Tuesday. It is expected to be some time just prior to Halloween.

However, just who votes on it is at issue in Boston.

Currently, the law states that it would just be a vote of the ward of the City that only encompasses East Boston. Several Boston mayoral candidates and others have recently been stumping for a vote that would encompass the entire city, something that would certainly threaten the success of the vote as it is believed many in far-flung neighborhoods like Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury oppose the casino.

That issue will be determined by the Boston City Council, and that is a battle that will begin playing out almost immediately.

It will be a particularly interesting battle on the Boston City Council as several of the City Councillors there are running for mayor and might find pressure to go with a citywide vote. It will likely end up acting as a proving ground for casino politics leading up to that city’s Sept. 24th Preliminary Election.

Suffolk Downs must submit a completed Phase II application to the Mass Gaming Commission (MGC) – complete with the signed host agreement and the certified results of a successful referendum vote – by Dec. 31st.

The MGC has said it would make a decision on the Greater Boston license by the end of April.