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Kraft, Wynn make the case for their plan

Steve Wynn (left) and Robert Kraft talked with reporters about plans for a casino near Gillette Stadium. Steve Wynn (left) and Robert Kraft talked with reporters about plans for a casino near Gillette Stadium. (Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)
Globe Staff / December 11, 2011
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Globe reporters interviewed New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and casino owner Steve Wynn last week about their plans for a casino in Foxborough. Here are edited excerpts of the interview.

GLOBE: When did you two meet and start to discuss the business proposition we’re here to talk about today?

WYNN: I instigated a phone call, oh, six or seven months ago, when all the talk came of the changing of the law here in Massachusetts. . . .

I suggested to my colleagues that, look, Massachusetts is a special place. . . . Folks that live in Massachusetts, starting in Plymouth, they have a definite way of looking at things and if there is to be anything like this, you’re going to have to be very sensitive locally. . . .

I said, and there’s one person there who I had known about for years as a businessperson, and that was the gent on my left, Robert Kraft. I said, if we’re going to take Massachusetts seriously, I’m going to talk to Robert Kraft. . . .

He was ambivalent at the time, concerned about Massachusetts but ambivalent about gaming. . . . He said, “I know about your business, I know what you do, if there’s ever going to be anything like it in Massachusetts, it’s going to have to be first class, or I’m not interested in it at all - I’ll be against it. But maybe if it was done right. But I can’t participate, Steve, because of my role in the NFL, which is dear to my heart.’’ And I suggested as a counterpoint, maybe we could snuggle up to the Kraft family as tenants. . . .

KRAFT: We did our homework on Steve Wynn. . . . He has been written up as one of the great CEOs of America and a visionary in his field. . . .

Our dream for the land across the street from our project was to have a life science technology park, involved with great scientists and pharma companies and scientific companies that could work on global problems. . . .

Given what’s going on in the world today, that’s not going to happen . . . I don’t see many options for this region of being able to have a project that can create 10,000 new jobs. . . .

To me, Foxborough’s like my hometown. I spent 25 years here. I love it here. . . . This is an opportunity to come before the people of Foxborough and speak to them about it and see if it’s something that they seriously want to consider. . . . On the other hand, I say to myself, I’m the largest taxpayer in this town. I want to see this town win in every way, not just Super Bowl championships. I want to have the best school system. I’d like to think that housing values here appreciate and continue to appreciate. And this special bucolic town stays special. And you can’t do that if you don’t have economic vitality. . . .

GLOBE: Can you tell us about the scope and size of the proposal as you’ve discussed it?

KRAFT: We see this as a destination resort that will attract people from all over America and all over the world . . . to come here and have conventions, and have meeting spaces, and have a good time. And leave a lot of revenue here that will spill over to both Foxborough and the surrounding towns.

WYNN: . . . As far as the building goes, what is appropriate for Las Vegas is completely out of scale and inappropriate for Foxborough. . . . I see a building that is no higher than the stadium, a low-rise or mid-rise building. I see a building that looks like it fits into the woods. . . . . Picture if you will, a lobby that you walk into with materials that you would expect to find in rural Massachusetts, but tastefully arranged that looks out on a pool, tennis courts, or a garden.

And on the promenades that go off the lobby, picture restaurants: steakhouse, Japanese, Chinese, Italian restaurant, for example. This promenade has indoor-outdoor access for when the weather permits. At the end of that promenade with shops are the meeting and convention spaces. Go in the other direction and a long corridor with shops leads to a lobby that is the entrance foyer to a gaming room. And there’s a blind at the doors so the children and families who are there, they can’t see the equipment.

Now, that gaming room is at the end of this promenade, and it is surrounded by parking . . . So if someone has in their mind to use those, to take advantage of that type of place, they can drive directly to it and go in. But everybody else who wants to stay in this hotel, bring their families to this hotel. . . . would never even know there is a casino. . . .

Yesterday, at the game . . . I had a conversation with two executives of major enterprises that have a need for meeting and convention space on a regular basis. . . . These groups have regular, when I say regular, almost one or two a month, 20 to 25 a year of meetings for between 300 to 800 or 900 people. That’s 150 to 400 rooms. If you start selling and making a regional destination to a place like Foxborough, which is very, very possible, then you get a very nice business for 10 to 12 hundred rooms, and the casino helps pay for it.

What drives this business, what creates a better tomorrow, what is responsible for the jobs, what energizes the communities . . . are the non-casino things. In talking to some of the people of Foxborough, I noticed that they were frightened. . . . As Robert Kraft mentioned, we are perfectly happy to rest upon the judgment of the citizens when they are in possession of the facts and understand what we have in mind. . . .

GLOBE: Mr. Kraft, what conversations have you had . . . ?

KRAFT: I just want to say this. I want to speak to the mothers of Foxborough. We have a 25-year-old relationship . . . and I feel very close to them. And I understand their concerns, and unless we can satisfy the mothers of the people here that this is in the best interest of the community, then we don’t want to do it. . . . That’s the bottom line.

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