10/24/2013 3:19PM

Suffolk Downs will spend $40 million on renovations if casino bid is successful


Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Mass., will spend $40 million on renovations to its grandstand, racing surfaces, and backstretch if its bid to get approval for a casino at the track is successful, track officials announced on Thursday at a press conference at a local farm.

The pledge to fund the renovations is the latest component of the track’s all-out effort to build support for its casino bid, which was unsettled last week when the track asked its partner, Caesars Entertainment, to drop out of the project. Suffolk made the request after the state’s gambling commission indicated that it was unlikely to approve Caesars for a license.

Voters will be asked whether they approve of the casino in a Nov. 5 referendum. The project is competing with two other bidders for the sole Boston-area license.

Suffolk said on Thursday that the planned renovations include a new turf course, the replacement of the dirt surface, upgrades to its dining and simulcast areas, and the construction of new dormitories on its backstretch. The track’s audio and visual equipment will also be replaced, the track said, as will the infield tote board.

Under the state’s gambling law, Massachusetts horsemen will receive subsidies from the state’s casinos regardless of which companies receive the gambling licenses.

Chip Tuttle, the track’s chief operating officer, said on Thursday in an e-mailed response to questions asking if Suffolk is in discussions with other gambling companies to operate the casino if it is approved.

"Given our premier location in an attractive market, there is strong interest from a number of potential gaming partners, the names of whom we are not making public at this time," Tuttle said.