By Seth Daniel
The Wynn Boston Harbor team enjoyed unanimous approval of its most current design for its destination casino by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) during a meeting in Everett on Oct. 26.
The vote was unanimous, 4-0, and included extended looks at the construction schedule, the hotel design and changes to the numbers of rooms.
The MGC also set June 3, 2019 as the official date of opening for the casino.
Wynn and MGC reviewers will be able to make minor changes moving forward, but would have to come back to the MGC for any major changes.
“The last time the Commission formally reviewed the Wynn design was almost exactly a year ago,” said John Delaney of the MGC. “And in that intervening year, the project plans have been refined and finalized and Wynn has performed a value engineering exercise that identified substantial cost savings for the project. I spent a significant amount of time reviewing these revised plans, which by the way now number over 5,000 plans on the project. And in conjunction with Wynn, we conducted a page turn exercise to compare the previous plans to the current iteration and to focus particularly on the larger changes to the design as well as incorporation of those identified value engineering items.”
Some of the changes to the building include changing the mix of rooms.
Wynn Boston Harbor President Bob DeSalvio said they have changed the numbers to rooms from 629 to 671. That, he said, was a function of the market forces in Boston.
“Hotels are slammed,” he told the MGC, noting that it wouldn’t change the shape or height. “This really involves the mix of the inventory in the building. We actually looked at the number of suites versus the number of resort rooms and we tailored that a little bit. We actually lowered the number of suites, and we actually raised the number of resort rooms.”
Other changes include eliminating the indoor swimming pool in favor of adding more exercise equipment, which DiSalvio said seemed particularly more popular in the Boston market with travelers and corporate executives.
“When you come to Boston, if you want to swim, you want to go to the beaches,” he said. “Our purpose is to get them out…They can get in their cars and drive over to Revere Beach… So what we really did was eliminate the pool and increase the size of the gym in that particular area up on our third level of our main guest area.”
In what was a significant approval, also, was the official opening date of the casino, which the MGC approved for June 3, 2019.
“And as of today, I can tell you we’re on that schedule. We don’t have any – right now we do not have any interruptions in that schedule,” said Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Massachusetts Design and Development.
A very significant piece of discussion, but a piece that wasn’t covered in the design approval, was the change in gaming square footage and a change in the numbers and mix of gaming positions.
DeSalvio said the numbers of gaming positions is actually down from 4,580 to 4,250.
The breakdown includes 2,838 slots and 1,380 table positions and a few other specialized games to fill in the numbers.
“That is down from the 4,580 that you saw previously, primarily due to a mix where we increased the number of table games, and we actually reduced the number of slot machines from the last time you had approved this, so in there lies that difference,” said DeSalvio.
One interesting new gaming station includes a multi-player Baccarat and roulette fusion that incorporates 30 playing stations into one live game – allowing 16 people to actually play at the same time on one live table game.
This is done by using an electronic betting station, and the game would likely be classified as an electronic table game of some fashion, rather than a slot machine. DeSalvio said they have visited a gaming provider to look at the game and would really like to pilot it on the gaming floor of Wynn Boston Harbor.
“We’ve set up one area on the floor where we’d like to do some experimentation,” he said. “We may look at some other products, but there’s an area on the floor that we really feel is worthy of us doing a good test on that. And so right now that has been included on our main floor.”
Another change to the gaming area, which also wasn’t approved in the design vote, was increasing the square footage from 190,000 sq. ft. to 207,000 sq. ft.
Most of that has to do with a change on the gaming Mezzanine level, a change instituted directly by Steve Wynn.
“That mezzanine level, Mr. Wynn and the rest of the folks thought that would be a great spot for the poker operation,” said DeSalvio. “So as you know, we moved that off of the main floor and put that up on the mezzanine level, readjusted some of the square footages but, hence, a change in the gaming square footage.”
Meanwhile, on the construction side of things, Gordon said they have finished the slurry wall and are excavating soils from what will be the garage – using trains and trucks to rid the site of about 6,000 tons of soil a day.
They said they would begin pouring the concrete slab on the Central Utility Plant and on the convention area on either side of the excavated garage. That will pave the way, he said, to beginning to put up steel in December.
“The reason (the slab) is important is it finally stabilizes that whole part of the site, and we can start putting up steel and really clean the site up quite a bit,” he said. “So those are going to start in November, and they’ll be done in November. So that will get a very large part of the site with a concrete slab on it. That enables a third point, which
is December, roughly on the 5th and 6th of December, we expect the steel to start arriving. And this will be hundreds and hundreds of truckloads of steel. It’s being manufactured right now.”
Already, he said, they have brought a 120-foot crane on the site to prepare for the lifting and hoisting of steel. Larger cranes will be coming, but the first one is quite imposing and tall from the street level, he said.
That, Gordon said, will be the next major milestone for the public, when they begin to see the steel tower coming out of the ground.
No hard feelings
There were not hard feelings, but during the Everett MGC meeting, Commissioner Steve Crosby recalled having played Everett in football when he was in high school in Newton and getting “whooped” by Bobby Leo.
“First of all, as you well know, Everett has played great football, not just this year, but about exactly 54 years to today on a Saturday afternoon, I was down at Veteran’s Field losing to Everett and Bobby Leo when Newton High got whooped. So this has been going on for a while, your football.”
The comments were stoked by Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who commented that not only was Everett home to a new world-class casino development, but also the best high school football in the state.
That segued into a conversation about Crosby being a teammate of Everett’s Bobby Leo when the two played at Harvard University.
“And I happened to be with Bobby Leo at homecoming a couple of weeks ago and he had told me about you might have been opponents in high school but were teammates at Harvard after that,” said the mayor. “He spoke very highly of you.”
Said Crosby, “Yes, that’s right. Bobby was the star, and I warmed the bench.”
That opened up for another former teammate of Bobby Leo’s to speak up, MGC Commissioner Lloyd MacDonald.
“Miraculously, I sat on the bench with Steve,” said MacDonald with a laugh.