By Seth Daniel
Steve Wynn visited Boston on Tuesday afternoon to unveil the full-scale model of his Everett resort casino, and in true Wynn form, debuted the newly-named Wynn Boston Harbor and kicked around other subjects as well, from the U.S. presidential election to the environmental appeal of Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone to the story of the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino telling him to “take a hike” when he proposed to build on the South Boston Waterfront.
The new model is much of what has been described before, but this time it was detailed in three-dimensional specifics.
“Before you have a building, you have to have an idea, and without an idea, you have nothing,” he said at the outset of the press conference on Tuesday, which came after a private viewing by several local leaders.
“What you see here today is exactly what you will see when it opens. The renderings and model are not an approximation of the colors or the detail of the building, it is the building. Today you will see what’s coming two or three years down the road. You will see ‘the stuff.’”
That stuff included a grand foyer that features an all-flower sculpture as one enters – a sculpture that would feature a carousel, a Ferris Wheel or a Faberge egg. Under it would be a flower design with the inspiration coming from a sea anemone.
“It will always be 100 percent flowers,” Wynn said. “It cost a couple million dollars apiece, but they’re worth it.”
Astride two opposing crescent-shaped escaltors is the $23 million ‘Popeye the sailor man’ sculpture – purchased by Wynn specifically for the Everett property even before he had the gaming license. The curving escalators – which Wynn said cost 10 times as much as a traditional, straight escalator, curve inward and deposit one on the Mezzanine level of the resort.
The retail portion and restaurants would branch off in both directions, but a mall type of structure would stretch out towards the Mystic River. The shops, he said, will be the same as other Wynn resorts, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and others. One focal point within all of those grandiose pieces was the fact that there was no casino within sight.
Wynn said it was by design, and he considers the casino as a way to pay for the opulence of the foyer and the retail and restaurants. He said he designed the Everett casino in the fashion of his casino in Macau, where there was no open access to the casino from the lobby.
“The notion would be that everyone in the Metropolitan area could go shopping, could go dining in the restaurants, get married, have a convention or meeting, be entertained – and do all of this without ever seeing a gaming device,” he said. “After all, we’re in Massachusetts; we’re not in Las Vegas. Gaming doesn’t have to lead the parade. It should be an activity that’s optional.”
The casino floor, however, is huge, with two elevated gaming areas – one of which is likely to be the new sports bar concept that will be first unveiled at the Everett casino. The floor contains hundreds of slot stations, with gaming tables interspersed. The layout of the gaming will have segregated games, so that blackjack isn’t right next to roulette. Instead, similar games will be next to one another.
Wynn also unveiled the new name for the resort, the Wynn Boston Harbor. The name seemed to fall flat with the press, with some media members noting that the casino is not on the Harbor. “Wynn Mystic” was suggested, but Wynn didn’t seem to take to it.
“We were trying to express its appeal and Harbor seemed like a pretty word,” he said. “We haven’t made a final decision.”
An exciting piece for Everett was the fact that Wynn has visions for beyond his property, and in being a catalyst for the resurgence of the City.
“This is a $2 billion job,” he said, noting that they have already spent $300 million. “It makes us the largest private developer in the history of Massachusetts. It makes us the first or second largest employer in the state. More importantly, we’re going to be a catalyst for change in Everett. We bought up the adjacent properties and made this old industrial area a park-like environment. Hopefully at some point we’ll include an office building and an apartment building – maybe even some day the world’s greatest par 3 golf course. It’s funny, when you have a catalyst of this magnitude, you won’t see it at first, but remarkable things happen once it is in business. All the sudden people see opportunities in adjacent communities for development that is fanciful and otherwise something never thought possible. I find this sort of participation on our part to be narcotically exciting.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said he like that piece of the announcement in particular, noting that it’s exciting that the Wynn team has a vision for beyond their property.
“I’m very excited to hear today he has plans for beyond his property and for the entire area,” he said. “It was great to hear he wants to do more than a hotel development and clean up the whole area.”
The conversation then turned to Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone. Wynn said he had no idea why the Somerville mayor would appeal the Chapter 91 license at the last minute.
When traffic was suggested, he gave a “raspberry” sound and dismissed that totally.
“You’ve gotta be kidding,” he said after the raspberry. “Air quality? This has nothing to do with air quality.”
He postulated that it was about exposing the fact that Somerville’s developments haven’t contributed as much as Wynn to the mitigation of the traffic in the area.
“I think he sees us as competition and us shining a light on the mitigation,” he said.
Others suggested it was because Somerville wanted to get more money from Wynn, which sent Steve Wynn on a five-minute history of the arbitration process with Somerville – which the Wynn company won.
“The chances of us [paying Somerville] are a perfect zero,” he said. “We’re not going to pay a dime. Do we need a reason to say we’re done paying? We’re done paying…It’s been a long slog; we got through it. Everyone’s happy. Then in the last second of the last day, out pops his honor Mr. Mayor of Somerville saying, ‘Na Na Na-Na Na.’”
He predicted it would not amount to much in the larger picture, and that they would break ground on July 1.
Despite some skeptics in the audience, Wynn assured everyone he had no ulterior motives for coming to the area on Tuesday to unveil the model. He said he wanted everyone to see it and get a feel for it and make up their minds as to whether it’s good or not.
“There are no mirrors here,” he said.
It should be noted that when Steve Wynn is asked a question, he doesn’t mince words and that was the case on Tuesday when he was asked about the U.S. Presidential election and the fact that another casino owner, Donald Trump, is in the race.
Wynn endorsed no one and said the main issue in the race – the national debt – is not being addressed by anyone.
After spouting off from memory the numbers of employees in the government, the two unions representing them and the interest rate on various forms of the government debt, he said no one is offering a solution to that.
“We take in $3.1 billion and we spend $3.6 billion; that’s $1.650 we don’t have that we’re borrowing,” he said. “No matter what Bernie Saunders says there is one problem and it’s the deficit because when we borrow $50 billion of new money every month, we print that money and increase the money supply and dilute the paycheck of every one of you in this room,” he said. “Down goes your living standard as it has been for quite some time. Until someone decides that the ins and the outs have to match up, it’s going to get worse and worse and worse. The deficit is destroying the living standard of working people in America. Nothing is more simple and less complicated than that truth. Do you hear that in the public discourse today?”
He said he is mystified by the election, but doesn’t think any candidate is talking about the big issue in his mind – the deficit.
“I’m saying as a citizen and most of all as an employer who is worried about the living standard of his employees,” he said. “I’m waiting for one of these six people to show me or convince me that if I vote for them that my employees and the rest of us will have a better life. We haven’t heard that yet.”