By late afternoon, there were no official turnout estimates available from city officials, but poll workers in Revere reported a steady flow of voters throughout the day for Tuesday's referendum on Mohegan Sun's proposal to build a $1.3 billion resort style casino at Suffolk Downs.
"I think the [turnout] has been equally steady citywide," said Joan Regan, a poll supervisor at St. Mary's Church in west Revere.
By mid-afternoon, nearly 1,000 voters had cast ballots at the church, the polling place for Ward 6, precincts 1 and 2.
Among the first voters was Revere mayor Dan Rizzo, who cast his ballot at about 8 a.m., Regan said.
Jane DeFronzo, 64, said she voted "yes" after casting her ballot just before 2 p.m. at St. Mary's.
"It's either going here or to Everett," said DeFronzo, who walked to the polls from her apartment nearby. "I'd like to see Revere get some money out of this."
Across the city on Broadway, the Reverend George Szal, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, stood holding two "No Casino" sings.
"Short term gains, long term pains," Szal said, explaining his opposition. "This casino will not fulfill its promise. It might provide provide some jobs in the beginnings but they won't last."
Szal said he was among the first in line, at 7 a.m. at Revere High School to cast his "no" vote.
The battle lines between supporters and opponents were clearly drawn. Cars, trucks, and even a mini-bus circled the city, plastered with red and blue "Vote Yes" signs or yellow and red "No Casino" signs.
Volunteers from each camp held signs outside many of the city's 21 polling locations, which included schools, churches, and fire stations.
They waved to motorists and flashed "thumbs up" whenever drivers beeped in support.
More than 200 workers are staffing the city's 21 polling places. Revere has 25,680 registered voters, and a flurry of new registrations were made in the run-up to the election.
Voters will be asked to decide if Mohegan Sun should be allowed to develop a casino on 52 acres of land on the Revere side of Suffolk Downs, a 160-acre thoroughbred race track that also lies in East Boston.
The Revere Beach-themed development would include two hotels, chic shops and restaurants, and a 24-hour casino overlooking the race track.
The outcome will determine if Mohegan Sun will remain a contender in the state's casino sweepstakes.
A "yes" vote will allow the project to advance before the state's gambling commission.
A "no" vote would kill the project, since the state's gambling law requires local approval.
Mohegan Sun is competing against Wynn Resorts of Las Vegas for the one license to operate a resort casino in Greater Boston, which is expected to be awarded by the state gambling commission in May or June.
Wynn proposes to build a $1 billion resort casino on vacant industrial land on the Mystic River. Everett voters last June approved that project, voting 86 percent in favor.
In Revere, the ballot will include a summary of key economic benefits of a host community agreement, a key requirement of the state's gambling law.
Mohegan Sun's agreement with Revere calls for the Connecticut-based casino company to make a one-time payment of $33 million to the city, plus annual payments of $25 million to $30 million.
Revere residents also would receive hiring preference for the estimated 2,500 temporary construction jobs, and 4,000 permanent jobs expected to be created if the project is approved.
Still, Mohegan's proposal has unleashed heated debate among city residents. On Sunday, supporters and opponents held dueling rallies trying to convince voters to approve or defeat the project.
Tuesday's election will mark the second time since November that Revere voters have been asked to approve a casino at Suffolk Downs.
An earlier proposal, which did not identify a casino operator, won 60 percent of the vote. But the proposal was soundly defeated in East Boston.
Suffolk Downs then partnered with Mohegan Sun to propose a new project to be built solely in Revere.
The MBTA today announced the start date for its planned two-year closure of Government Center Station -- Saturday, March 22.
The 24-month closure is part of a $90 million project to renovate and rebuild the busy station at City Hall Plaza.
MBTA personnel began posting signs today at Government Center and other stations, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said.
The T has also created a webpage with additional details, including recommendations for how passengers should navigate the system during the closure.
A transfer point for the Green and Blue lines, the station is the 13th busiest in the MBTA system and the third oldest, according to the T. On average, 11,315 people enter Government Center Station on weekdays.
Work on the Government Center Station project began in the fall while the station remained opened.
During the closure, trains will still run through, but will not stop at the station.
The T has said it will take steps to try to reduce impacts from the closure, including running: special bus route that will stop at Government Center, Haymarket, and State stations. And, Bowdoin Station, normally closed on weekends and after 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, will be kept open seven days a week and until the same time other stations close.
The overhaul, the first significant modernization to the Government Center Station in 50 years, will bring it into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and make myriad other improvements. The most dramatic change will be a tall, glass-lined station entrance, or headhouse, emerging from City Hall Plaza.
Other work will include: renovating Green Line and Blue Line platforms; overhauling the electrical system; installing new elevators, escalators, LED signs, improved lighting, and an expanded fare collection area, and reconstructing some of the surrounding parts of Cambridge Street and City Hall Plaza, officials said.
The station is scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2016. After it reopens, some work will continue before the project's scheduled completion at the end of 2016. The T has said it expects federal funding to cover about 80 percent of the project cost.
The MBTA plans to soon install countdown clocks at a number of bus stations throughout its system to notify riders when the next bus on each route will leave that station, the agency announced today.
The bus way at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain will be the first bus location to get the electronic message boards, according to T spokeswoman Kelly Smith.
Signs are also planned in bus ways at Dudley Square and Ruggles stations, she said. Eight other stations have been "tentatively" chosen to receive the signs: Harvard Square; Haymarket, Ashmont; Kenmore; Maverick, Wonderland, Jackson Square, and Central Square.
The signs should be operational by summer, Smith said.
The signs, using real-time bus tracking data, will provide information about when each route serving that station is next expected to depart. The signs will feature both visual and audio messages.
The project is funded through federal stimulus money, and each sign costs about $50,000, a price tag that includes the display, hardware, software, installation, maintenance and a push-button activated sound system so that people with visual impairments can access the information on the sign, she said.
Most stations will have one sign each. Dudley, because of its size, will have two, she said.
"I've often said our buses are the work horses of our system, serving more than 375,000 people on a typical weekday," T general manager Beverly Scott said in a statement. "The countdown signs at our busiest bus stops will provide customers with information that will make their public transit experience easier and more convenient."
Last week, the T completed an 18-month-long project to activate a total of 314 countdown clocks at all 53 subway stations on the Red, Orange and Blue lines, which officials said made the T one of the first transit agencies in the country to equip all heavy rail stations with train-arrival information.
Officials said the signs have been popular and well-received by riders, and since they were introduced in the summer of 2012 the agency said it has made regular improvements based on rider feedback, including making the signs more accurate and easier to see.
The T said it expects to introduce the countdown clock system to the Green Line by the end of this year. The light rail line is undergoing work to upgrade its less-sophisticated train tracking system with GPS and sensor technology to allow for countdown clock capability.
The agency has also said technology upgrades on the Green Line will allow smartphone-carrying riders to be able to track in real-time the whereabouts and expected arrival of the line's trains by 2015.
Trains on the Red, Orange and Blue have been tracked by mobile applications since the fall of 2010, when the agency made real-time train location data on those lines available to private software developers, who have created numerous smartphone applications. The T made real-time data on bus locations available to software developers in fall of 2009.
The following was submitted on behalf of Mohegan Sun:
Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs Tuesday announced the completion of terms for agreements with seven local communities, marking another critical step in the pursuit of a license to develop a world-class casino resort in Revere.
The agreements and agreements in principle with Cambridge, Chelsea, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Melrose, and Salem will provide significant economic and community benefits along with local impact payments that total $3.75 million among the seven municipalities. The agreements also ensure that small businesses in these communities will have access to millions of dollars in annual spending by the proposed $1.3 billion development and that residents in these communities will be given job opportunities at Mohegan Sun Massachusetts and have access to job training programs and problem gambling services.
“We are pleased to announce these agreements, which represent an important step in our efforts to develop an incredible destination that will benefit the entire region with the creation of new jobs, economic development, and tourism opportunities,” said Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. “Each of these communities have been a great neighbor to Revere and Suffolk Downs, and these agreements illustrate Mohegan Sun Massachusetts’ commitment to work in partnership with our neighboring communities.”
Mohegan Sun Massachusetts expects to spend about $50 million annually on goods and services from businesses located within a 15-mile radius of Revere once the resort is fully operating. Similarly, MSM expects to create 4,000 jobs and has committed to hiring 75 percent of its workforce within the same 15-mile radius.
“Melrose is pleased to have entered into a Surrounding Community Agreement with Mohegan Sun at Suffolk Downs,” said Melrose Mayor Robert J. Dolan. “The benefits of this agreement with the city of Melrose, along with the clear regional benefits of employment, purchasing, and increased revenues for municipalities, will be a much-needed boost to our local economy. As we embark on this new era of expanded gaming in Massachusetts, Mohegan Sun has given Melrose a seat at the table.”
Also included as part of the agreed-upon terms are strong commitments to regional economic development and benefits – such as the cross-marketing of tourist attractions and cultural institutions in these communities, and providing local businesses with access to vendor opportunities and Mohegan Sun’s industry leading players club points program. Mohegan Sun has also agreed to fund approximately $1 million in additional study and design of regional traffic solutions not related to the impacts of the proposed resort.
Mohegan Sun has a signed Surrounding Community Agreement with Chelsea, which was unanimously approved by City Council Monday evening.
“The Suffolk Downs location is the best in Eastern Massachusetts to host a resort casino, and with Mohegan Sun as the development and gaming partner, it’s the best option for this region’s gaming license,” said City Manager of Chelsea Jay Ash. “This commitment to my city and to our neighboring communities illustrates that this will be a great source of economic activity that will benefit the entire region.”
Mohegan Sun also has terms for agreements in principle with Cambridge, Lynn, Malden, Medford, and Salem, subject to city council approval. The agreements are the result of comprehensive discussions over benefits to these cities to be provided by Mohegan Sun should it be awarded a license to develop a $1.3 billion resort casino in Revere. Mohegan Sun has also designated Boston, Saugus, and Winthrop as surrounding communities and is continuing discussions with those municipalities.
“As a gateway to the North Shore, the kind of development that Mohegan Sun is proposing provides an amazing opportunity to transform this area,” said Leslie Gould, president and CEO of the Lynn Area Chamber of Commerce. “Establishing partnerships within the region is a key to all of our success.”
Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will be a $1.3 billion resort casino with two hotels and world-class dining, shopping, and entertainment amenities on 42 of Suffolk Downs’ 52 acres in Revere. The resort casino will feature 5,000 gaming positions, a total of 500 hotel rooms, 170,000 square feet of floor space, and a 10,000 square foot spa.
“Our relationships with our surrounding communities is very important, and we appreciate the hard work and thoughtful approach of each of these city leaders to reach these agreements,” said Chip Tuttle, Chief Operating Officer of Suffolk Downs. “Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will not only preserve the future of thoroughbred racing at Suffolk Downs, but it will create new economic and tourism opportunities for the entire region.”
Currently, Mohegan Sun spends nearly $500 million annually on goods and services from local vendors near its Connecticut and Pennsylvania facilities.
Kathy McCabe/Globe Staff
For the second time in four months, Revere voters will be asked to go to the polls Feb. 25 to approve a $1 billion resort casino proposed for the Suffolk Downs horse race track that straddles the East Boston line.
This time around, the project is different. The track has teamed up with Mohegan Sun of Connecticut to build a resort with two hotels, upscale shops, and restaurants on 42 acres that lie solely on the Revere side of the property.
Revere voters in November voted in favor of a separate proposal that would have built a resort on the East Boston side of the property. But East Boston voters soundly rejected it.
The state's gaming law requires local approval before a casino project can advance before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs are competing against a $1 billion resort casino proposed by Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn for the Everett waterfront, less than 2 miles from the race track.
A pro-casino group called "Revere Says Yes" held its first organizing meeting Tuesday night at the American Legion Hall on Broadway in Revere.
About 50 supporters turned out to eat pizza and cannolis in a meeting that was like a pep rally to a public meeting planned for Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Revere City Hall. City officials will present a Host Community Agreement negotiated with Mohegan Sun.
At stake: Tens of millions of dollars that could reverse the fortunes of this blue-collar city best known for its crescent-shaped beach. The agreement calls for Mohegan Sun to make a one-time $33 million payment to the city, plus annual payments of $25 million to $30 million.
"That's money that will go right into the coffers of the City of Revere, if this project goes forward," Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo, the project's chief cheerleader, told supporters Tuesday night.
The agreement also gives Revere residents hiring preference for 20 percent of the 4,000 permanent jobs the project promises to create.
"That's not just 800 jobs," said Louis Ciarlone, president of IBEW Local 103, the union representing about 160 track workers. "That's 800 good jobs."
Still, despite such rich promises of revenue and jobs, casino supporters are leaving little to chance at the ballot box. In the coming weeks, they plan to knock on doors, make phone calls, hold signs and coffee klatches to reach the city's 25,559 registered voters.
“We’ll be going ward by ward, precinct by precinct,” said Eddie Limoli, a field organizer for Friends of Mohegan Sun, a group backed by the Connecticut-based casino company. "We have a lot to do, in a short period of time."
Some senior citizens are ready to help.
"I'll hold signs, have coffees," said Rose Napolitano, 81, a retired receptionist at the Revere Housing Authority. "With this project, we might finally be able to get a new senior center. The place we have now is falling apart."
Gloria Hurley, 79, said she's game, too.
"I definitely want to get out there and hold signs," she said.
But a referendum held in February holds a different set of challenges than the vote held on Nov. 5.
A good many Revere seniors spend the winter in warmer climes. But absentee ballots should be available by two weeks ahead of voting day, supporters said.
Mother Nature, too, will have her say. Cold or snow could prompt some residents to stay home.
But Rizzo vows Revere will get out its vote.
"We're not blessed by the Feb. 25 date," Rizzo told supporters. "We have to make sure everyone gets to the polls. Every single vote is going to count, and we only have about 50 days to go."
Kathy McCabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following a Revere City Council vote to set Tuesday, Feb. 25 as the date for a referendum vote, Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs on Friday launched a campaign to build support for its $1 billion resort casino proposal.
Voters in Revere will vote up or down on the recently announced host community agreement with Mohegan Sun, which guarantees the city between $25 million and $30 million in annual revenue, up to $33 million in pre-opening payments, about $45 million in infrastructure improvements, and new athletic fields.
After Palmer voters rejected Mohegan Sun’s plans for a resort casino in that town and East Boston voters turned down a casino at the East Boston racetrack, Mohegan Sun and Suffolk Downs teamed up on a revised casino plan on 52 acres owned by Suffolk Downs in Revere, where voters in early November had approved plans for the East Boston casino.
The Revere casino plan is competing with Steve Wynn’s Everett casino proposal for the eastern Massachusetts license.
The MBTA said it will continue its annual tradition of offering free rides after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, while boosting service on its subway and commuter rail lines to accommodate people traveling to celebrate First Night.
On New Year’s Eve, the T's Green, Red, Orange, and Blue lines will operate on modified weekday schedules with extra trains running at “rush-hour levels of service” from about 3 p.m. until 2 a.m., officials announced.
The T’s commuter rail lines will also run on modified weekday schedules with additional service, including a number of lines that will see extra outbound service and some delayed outbound departures between midnight and 2 a.m., officials said.
To see a detailed list of extra commuter rail service and delayed departure times, click here.
Meanwhile, the T’s Silver Line, buses, trackless trolleys, express bus routes and boats will run on regular weekday schedules on New Year’s Eve, officials said.
The T’s paratransit service, the RIDE, will run on a regular weekday schedule with extended hours until 2:30 a.m.
On New Year’s Day, the four subway lines will run on Sunday schedules as will the Silver Line, the RIDE, the commuter rail and buses, meaning some commuter rail and bus lines will not operate, officials said.
For a detailed list of subway and bus routes that will not run on New Year’s Day, click here.
The T will not run boat service on New Year’s Day.
City officials have encouraged people traveling in and around Boston on New Year's Eve to ride public transit, including the T. A number of streets will be closed to traffic, while parking will be banned on others. For a detailed list, click here.