Suffolk Downs unveils $40 million upgrade, claims casino would help Mass. thoroughbred industry

Renderings of the future Suffolk Downs Hotel and Casino. PHOTO CREDIT: Suffolk Downs
Renderings of the future Suffolk Downs Hotel and Casino. PHOTO CREDIT: Suffolk Downs

Today Suffolk Downs unveiled plans for a $40 million upgrade that includes clubhouse and grandstand renovations, updated technology, and enhancements to outdoor viewing.

Track officials released details at Indian Rock Stables, a thoroughbred breeding farm located in Saugus. The racing improvement plan is part of its overall proposal to develop a $1 billion world-class resort at the historic 78-year-old racetrack, which is pointing to a new study of Massachusetts’ thoroughbred industry which reportedly found that the industry would see a 57 percent increase should the track earn a gaming license.

The industry currently generates 1,486 jobs and includes 133 farms and more than 6,000 acres of open space.

“We have been steadfast in our commitment to Thoroughbred racing and this plan illustrates the broad range of racing-related improvements that will greatly enhance the experience of our customers while also appealing to our horsemen and women who work and compete here,” said Richard Fields, principal owner of Suffolk Downs.

Last week, Suffolk parted ways with its partner Caesars Entertainment amid a background check by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, which Caesars said used standards that are “arbitrary, unreasonable and inconsistent with those that exist in every other gaming jurisdiction.” The track is currently seeking a new partner ahead of a Nov. 5 vote, however the track is facing calls from opponents, No Eastie Casino, to drop out of the running.

Track officials however are continuing their push for the resort, and said today that improvements will include the replacement of the existing infield toteboard, installation of a jumbo-sized outdoor television screen, an upgraded sound system and a computerized global positioning system to chart race results.

In addition to some of the technological improvements, the outdoor racing experience will be enhanced with an expanded grass picnic area, amphitheater seating and upgrades to the paddock and winner’s circle.

“If we are successful in earning a gaming license, we will be looking to schedule more special events and enhance our racing program with the return of the Massachusetts Handicap and an open stakes program and these improvements to our facility would allow us to do so in a way that would best serve our customers and our horsemen and women,” said Chip Tuttle, Chief Operating Officer of Suffolk Downs.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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