By Seth Daniel
It seems the troubled waters have smoothed for the Wynn Boston Harbor naming controversy, which erupted in Everett shortly after Steve Wynn announced the name of the casino would be ‘Wynn Boston Harbor’ two weeks ago.
As time has moved on, many folks said they better understood the name, and the initial shock of it has now melded into an understanding of how the international branding of the casino project will help the City overall – even if ‘Everett’ isn’t in the name.
“I was a little bit taken back at first as were others here,” said Councilor Mike Mangan at a meeting of Everett United on Monday, where Wynn officials explained the name. “When I talked to Bob (DeSalvio) and Mayor DeMaria, I saw it’s about marketing ourselves. It’s about reconnecting our waterfront to Boston Harbor…Anything we put around here can now say it’s in proximity to Boston Harbor.”
Councilor Mike McLaughlin expressed a similar concern.
“I was the angriest of everyone at first,” he said. “You didn’t want to talk to me about this a week ago. I think as time has gone on, I’ve begun to understand it. We’re marketing ourselves to the world and outside of here people might not know Everett. They know Boston and they know the Harbor. After all, when I go on vacation out of state, I tell people I’m from Boston. I don’t tell them I’m from Everett. They might not know where that is. I think I understand what they’re doing and I support the name now.”
Those changes of heart have been common among the die-hard Wynn supporters, who at first felt betrayed by the news. In particular, many felt that including the word ‘Boston’ in the name was an insult given the long, drawn out legal fight by the City of Boston that held up the project.
Wynn Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio said at Monday’s meeting at Eight-Ten Restaurant that he regretted how the name was rolled out, but he said he stands by the name.
“I do want to apologize because, thinking back, we could have probably rolled this out better,” he said. “I’ll take responsibility for that. One reason why that happened is we were having a lot of internal debate right up to the end. I didn’t know where Mr. Wynn would go with it.”
DeSalvio has been on a tour lately with the local and Boston media – as well as with supporters in Everett and beyond – explaining the logic behind how the marketing of the casino will unfold, and it has so very much to do with the water.
“First and foremost, our address and building are in Everett, Massachusetts,” he said. “It is now and always will be in Everett. We want to make sure that doesn’t get lost in translation.
“As much as there is confusion over our location, we are part of the Boston Harbor watershed and the mouth of the Mystic River,” he continued. “We are below the Amelia Earhart Dam and we are definitely tidal. We get an eight or nine-foot swing in the tides on a daily basis. I think a lot of people tend to forget how important Everett is to the Port of Boston…Our location is no different than the Fort Point Channel, which is part of Boston Harbor. Chelsea Creek is part of Boston Harbor, same as we are.”
He said water has always been very important to the project, since the very first days when the water shuttles were proposed.
“The idea we are connected to the water has been important to us from a Wynn tourism perspective,” he said. “International tourism was identified in our MGC application. In this day and age, when casinos are found all over the world, the first thing you want to do is differentiate yourself. The words ‘Boston Harbor’ if we’re doing a partnership in any major market around the work, it says ‘Boston,’ which is geographically significant and ‘Harbor’ says we’re on the water. Those two things will strengthen strategies for the marketing of our property.”
Most within the support network of Everett United, though, said they always supported the name and understood why it had to be that way.
“As long as they say the address is Everett, that’s fine,” said Louanne Zawodny. “If it’s in Everett, that’s what’s important. A long as the promises are kept and the jobs and revenues come, I’m ok with it. I know a lot of people heard it and said, ‘Why?’ For me, I wasn’t against it ever.”
Added Bill and Diana McGee, “We got behind this because of jobs and revenue, not a name.”
Gene Lepere said he agreed with the name from the start.
“I think it’s perfect,” he said. “I think it fits with what Boston is and the history. Our reach is going to be from beyond Massachusetts. People identify with Boston and its history and the universities and hospitals that are world-renowned. Everett is just regional to people. I think ‘Boston Harbor’ is a perfect name.”
On Monday night, DeSalvio opened the meeting up to questions and comments. He admittedly didn’t know what to expect.
Zawodny rose to her feet, held a glass up and said, “I’d like to propose a toast…to Wynn Boston Harbor.”
The small crowd erupted into applause and someone yelled, “Here, here.”
The matter appeared to be settled.
The Wynn Boston Harbor casino and resort as seen on the scale model in the Wynn offices at Station Landing.