By John Lynds
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) unanimously approved the sale of Suffolk Downs Racetrack in East Boston last Thursday during its monthly meeting. The approval from the MGC was needed so the owners of Suffolk Downs, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, LLC, could continue simulcasting races after selling the property to developer, HYM.
Sterling Suffolk, who lost its bid to construct a casino on the 161-acre property, plans to lease the property from HYM at least through 2018, according to Suffolk COO Chip Tuttle.
Tuttle said the track and HYM reached an agreement recently and Suffolk agreed to sell the racetrack but pay HYM $20,000 per month through January 31, 2018 to continue simulcasting. Tuttle added that Sterling Suffolk will be responsible for security and maintenance of the property. Sterling Suffolk will also take steps for protecting the integrity of the racetrack’s betting operation.
“In addition to us continuing to have the same access to the property, control of the property, we’ve actually restricted the landlord from access to sensitive areas such as the money room and other areas that might affect the integrity of racing,” Tuttle said in a statement last week. “We’ve tried to look ahead and see what concerns the commission might have proactively and address those in the lease.”
The lease terms presented to the MGC last week also calls for Sterling Suffolk and HYM to determine if HYM’s development plans will allow for live racing in 2018. Currently, Sterling Suffolk has scheduled six days of live racing for 2017.
“The purchaser has no interest in live racing and will not continue live racing at the property,” Gaming Commission General Counsel Catherine Blue said at the hearing. “The transfer will have an impact on racing in the commonwealth in that it will result in the closure of the only Thoroughbred track in the commonwealth at this time.”
Former Boston Redevelopment Authority chief Tom O’Brien leads the Boston-based HYM Investment Group known for being a key player in the development of a 45-acre former rail yard in East Cambridge known as NorthPoint.
If the recent trend in large-scale urban development is any indication of what to be expected at Suffolk Downs, one should look no further than Station Landing in Medford or Assembly Row in Somerville as the benchmarks of this type of development.