Saturday, 2:15 PM
Press release describing agreement between Suffolk Downs, Wonderland
Sterling Suffolk Racecourse, the operator of the 73-year-old Suffolk Downs, and the Westwood Group, owner of Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, today announced a final agreement for a partnership between the two entities which will help protect the thousands of existing jobs at both sites and strengthen the effort to bring a resort-style casino to the East Boston-Revere area should the state decide to expand gaming.
The partnership agreement gives Suffolk Downs an option to purchase Wonderland and for the two entities to share in the potential benefits from future development at both sites. Both Suffolk Downs and Wonderland have been operating as pari-mutuel wagering facilities since 1935.
“We have been working on this kind of agreement for a while but the time has been well spent because we now have gotten it right; we have today an excellent understanding that will protect existing jobs as much as possible into the future and will commit the joint resources of our companies to the goal of a premium resort-style casino which will bring new jobs to the area and provide the state with much needed revenue,” said Richard Fields, Suffolk Downs’ principal shareholder.
Both facilities will remain separately owned and operated while they work collaboratively to expand the gaming and entertainment opportunities available to their patrons, expand employment opportunities for their workers and increase revenues for local and state coffers.
“Today is an important day for the dedicated workers and staff at Wonderland Park,” said Wonderland owner Charles Sarkis. “All along during discussions with Suffolk Downs, we had one big goal in mind: protect the jobs of nearby residents who, in many cases, have spent their whole lives working at this facility. I thank Richard Fields and Joe O’Donnell for their commitment to do all they can to protect those people and their livelihoods,” Sarkis added.
Under the new partnership, horse racing will continue at historic Suffolk Downs. Since Fields acquired his interest in the track in April of 2007, the track has undertaken a series of improvements, including the addition of a family picnic area on the grandstand apron, refurbishments in the barn area and the restoration of the track’s signature event, the Massachusetts Handicap, with a purse of $500,000.
“Charlie Sarkis and I have been friends for 35 years. We have been working toward this day for a long time and, as a former stockholder in Wonderland and an Everett native, I am pleased that this agreement will help re-develop both sites so that they can survive and thrive in these challenging times,” said Joseph O’Donnell, Suffolk Downs principal and longtime shareholder.
Fields also announced today that he is providing funding for Wonderland’s greyhound adoption program to ensure that all retired dogs find good homes.
Suffolk Downs and Wonderland are less than two miles apart, with Suffolk covering 167 acres and Wonderland including 35 acres.
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