New England Soccer Today

Revs to Revere?

Are the Revolution looking north of Boston for a new home?

According to The Boston Globe, the Revolution have entered discussions with the City of Revere about a possible soccer-specific stadium targeted for the site of the former Wonderland Greyhound Park.

“We are in discussions with the City of Revere, which offers the proximity to urban centers and access to transit that we are seeking for a future Revolution stadium,” Revolution president Brian Bilello said in a statement to the Globe. “But talks are preliminary at this stage.”

Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo is pushing to revitalize the site of the former dog track, a 34-acre plot valued at $10.8 million which has been shuttered since 2010.

Suffolk Downs, which owns the Wonderland site, is also in negotiations with Revere and Boston in an effort to get municipal approval for its proposed $1 billion dollar gambling resort, which would stretch into both cities. Rizzo is lobbying for the purchase of the land from Suffolk Downs with the hopes of building a soccer specific stadium there.

“It’s a very important property to the future of the city of Revere,” Rizzo told the Globe. “It’s definitely something I’d like to see in play as we consider mitigation.”

If the city reaches a deal with Suffolk Downs on the gambling resort, it’s likely to draw possible mitigation payments and use the money to lure the Revolution to Revere. He believes that the city “has to be right in the wheelhouse in terms of soccer fans.” More to the point, Rizzo told the Globe unequivocally that he would “love to see a full-blown professional soccer team here.”

However, Suffolk Downs, which is currently the only applicant for the sole casino resort license for the Greater Boston area, not only has to reach a deal with both Rizzo, but will have to agree to terms with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino before it can move forward with its billion dollar proposal.

While Rizzo may have visions of a soccer specific stadium at Wonderland, Suffolk Downs Chief Operating Officer Chip Tuttle told the Globe that his company isn’t presently committed to any particular redevelopment plan for the Wonderland site.

“We want to develop Wonderland in a manner that complements the ongoing revitalization of the Revere Beach area,” Tuttle said. “We don’t have specific plans for Wonderland yet.”

Moreover, Tuttle told the Globe that the city has not “broached” Suffolk Downs about acquiring the land.

A Sept. 20 report had the city contemplating a 15,000 capacity stadium, but it’s likely the Revolution will push for a 20,000 seat venue. The Revolution are currently drawing an average of 13,281 fans to Gillette Stadium this season, the lowest in MLS.

The Revolution are one of two teams in MLS that do not play in a soccer specific stadium or have one in the works. D.C. United, which play in RFK Stadium, are looking for a soccer-specific venue as well.

Revere is the latest municipality to throw its hat into the ring to build a soccer specific stadium for the Revolution. In 2010, the City of Somerville were reportedly in talks with the club, but discussions have not advanced beyond the preliminary stages.

11 Comments

  1. Jim

    October 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    Is this a new article? Last I heard (a few months ago) this same exact story was brought up, and talks were in the ‘preliminary stages’.

    Then the Revere Gazette or Tribune or something ran another story about how The Revs’ talks about this piece of property had ‘escalated’ – but Revere Officials had heard nothing about it. This all leads me to believe that this re-hashed news item (not rehashed by you guys, but by the Revs & globe, nesn, etc.) conveniently brought up again during season ticket renewal time, is simply being brought up to drum up more season ticket interest.

  2. Brian O'Connell

    October 1, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Hey Jim,
    I’ve seen different versions of this story as well, but today’s Boston Globe piece is, I believe, the first that contained a direct quote from Brian Bilello. I could be wrong on that, though.
    At the same time, I think there are still countless hurdles that need to be cleared for this project to happen. It’s still very, very early to say whether this project has legs. Gambling, in and of itself, is a touchy subject, and Suffolk Downs has a lot of politicking to do if it wants to get its ambitious casino project off the ground. If it can’t negotiate deals with Revere and Boston, I have a hard time seeing Revere finding the money to purchase the lot for soccer. Those mitigation payments are the key. Without them, Wonderland probably gets bought by a private developer, which then turns it into a shopping center or a high-end outlet center.

  3. Chris B

    October 1, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Also, wouldn’t MLS frown upon a Revs stadium being linked with gambling?

    I agree with Brian, but I REALLY want this to happen!

    • Brian O'Connell

      October 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      That’s a good point, Chris. Can’t see the league being very happy about a billion dollar gambling complex being built within walking distance of a Revs SSS. That’s a definite road block.
      Another issue, especially if there’s going to be a large-scale casino and a stadium? Traffic. One local lawmaker is already on record opposing the SSS concept because of nightmarish congestion.The city would have to undertake extensive road renovations to make it work, something along the lines of what Foxboro did with Route 1 in conjunction with Gillette’s construction.

  4. W Peter Jones

    October 1, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Hi regarding the Casino@ Suffolk Downs The company that owns both the race track and dog track is looking for a partner ie the Krafts To sweeten the deal the Krafts are looking for a soccer stadium to be built @ the dog track

  5. Brian O'Connell

    October 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I don’t know if it’s that simple, Peter. Earlier this year, the Krafts were certainly discussing casinos, but on their own land in Foxboro. It’s hard for me to see them being as ambitious about a casino outside of the Patriot Place footprint. I think the onus, at the end of the day, is squarely on Suffolk Downs. And to be sure, I doubt Suffolk Downs cares very much about a soccer stadium.

  6. Benny S

    October 2, 2012 at 3:35 am

    I’ve been saying this should be seriously investigated for YEARS. Way smarter than Somerville in my opinion, and definitely an area that would benefit from the economic boost a stadium would potentially bring year round. Hugely supportive of this and I hope to all the gods of all the world religions that something substantive and progressive happens as a result of these “discussions” COYR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Carleton

    October 2, 2012 at 8:53 am

    It seems to me, wouldn’t Kraft be better off with a SSS built next to Patriots Place? If the stadium is built elsewhere, his mall tenants at Patriots Place are losing some significant foot traffic. He must have the land, since he was looking to build a casino there anyway. He’d already have the land for parking – it’s just the stadium itself.

    Sure, if you build it in Revere, you gain some new fans – but those south of the city and in Providence – you probably lose a big chunk of them.

    • Chris B

      October 2, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      Kraft might think that, but if they build an SSS that close to Gillette that would be considered a HUGE insult to the fans. Part of the problem is the area of Foxboro is too far away from most fans, therefore the only issue an SSS next to Patriot Place solves is it would be a smaller stadium.

      It has to built in an urban setting like Revere or it’s a bust.

  8. celestemyers

    October 2, 2012 at 11:55 am

    FYI – Suffolk Downs does not own a casino license. The MA Gaming Commission has indicated that it will likely be late 2013 or early 2014 before a license is granted. Either way – it is not a given that a casino will land at Suffolk Downs and the application process is purported to be quite robust.

    Additionally – mitigation payments will likely go into a fund from which grants will be doled out via an individual grant application approval process that will likely be similar to that which is in place with Massport.

    Folks have this image of mitigation money flowing into the streets and that is just not how it will manifest.

    My caution to folks is to look at the fine print and to not be distracted by the term Mitigation – which equates to reparations for damages done. I’m not quite sure how one would go about filing for mitigation for impact to property value, loss of business, quality of life, social impacts such as addiction, increase in divorce rate, spousal abuse, suicide. Perhaps that mitigation will come in the form of donations to or creation of halfway houses, survivor funds – all of the really cheerful things.

    Vote No an a Revere/East Boston casino, don’t be swayed by the term mitigation and honestly – look critically at any proposed developments and weigh whether the end result will yield a net gain.

    Celeste Myers,
    No Eastie Casino

    • Brian O'Connell

      October 2, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      Hi Celeste,
      Thank you for the clarification. We’ve updated the story to reflect that. We also appreciate your insight into the some of the side effects that could rear itself into the picture if this deal were to happen. Whatever the outcome, I hope the people of Revere make their voices heard.

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