To many living in East Boston, Suffolk Downs Racetrack’s 160 plus acres of land was a logical place to build a temporary Olympic Stadium. That idea was confirmed by Boston 2024 organizers last week when Boston 2024 President Dan O’Connell said at a press conference that his group would look at “Suffolk Downs if the Widett Circle site in South Boston can’t happen”.
This has set off immediate backlash from the East Boston 2020 group made up primarily of people who opposed a resort casino at the famed racetrack that straddles the Boston and Revere line.
“The President of Boston2024 suggests that Suffolk Downs could be an alternative site for the proposed Olympic stadium, a community group is doubling down on its commitment to ensuring that any future development of the Suffolk Downs parcel must meet certain principles – one of which is East Boston approval,” the group said in a statement Monday.
After Suffolk Downs lost their bid for the areas casino license the group released a two-page vision statement, titled “Overarching Principles For Development in East Boston”. It outlines five principles by which all future significant development proposals in East Boston – and Suffolk Downs in particular – they feel should be measured. The five principles – permanent job creation, community inclusion and a transparent process, environmental impact, transit-oriented development, and economic feasibility – the group said, presents a framework to ensure that this critical and unique site is developed in a way that enhances quality of life.
Suffolk Downs recently received approval from the state to continue simulcast racing at the racetrack for another two years. The City of Boston and Mohegan Sun have both filed lawsuits against the Mass Gaming Commission after it awarded the areas gaming license to Wynn Everett.
In a statement to the East Boston Times, Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle said, “Suffolk Downs is supportive of the effort to bring the 2024 Olympic Games to the area. To date, we have not had any conversations with Boston 2024 or its representatives about the possible use of this property as a potential venue. We remain open to various development options on our property and look forward to working with Mayor Walsh, Mayor Rizzo, the cities of Boston and Revere and our neighbors moving forward.”