As rumors circulate through Boston and the nation about a potential sale of the Wynn Boston Harbor project, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said on Tuesday that he has strong reservations about working with any other gaming company that isn’t Wynn.
Wynn, for its part, is not commenting on most of the rumors of a sale, but has denied directly any talks going on between its CEO Matt Maddox and the MGM company.
Stoked by those talks, DeMaria took an aggressive approach with Wynn on Tuesday, reminding them in a letter and in comments that he has veto power under any sale within Everett’s Host Community Agreement (HCA).
“I don’t want be working with any other (gaming) company,” he said on Tuesday. “I have enjoyed the partnership and working with the Wynn organization and the people in Boston have been dynamite…My message is loud and clear on this. We did business with Wynn and Wynn only. Whenever someone is going to come and re-negotiate a Host Community Agreement that’s bigger and better and promises all the things that Wynn has promised, there’s no conversation until then. I don’t think anyone else will do that.”
Those comments have some sway, too, as the mayor – under the HCA – has the power to veto any proposed sale of the project.
On Tuesday afternoon, DeMaria sent a letter to Wynn Resorts reminding them that he has full veto power under Section 10 of the HCA. That section reads, ‘Neither Wynn nor the City shall transfer or assign its rights or obligations under the Agreement without prior written authorization of the other party.’
“As mayor of the City of Everett, I am writing to you regarding media reports of a possible sale of the Wynn Boston Harbor resort casino project,” he wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “I believe that a sale of the project would be premature and disadvantageous to not only my city, but also to the company’s long-term profitability. I am requesting the opportunity to discuss this matter further with both you and the Board of Directors. Thank you for your attention to this matter.”
The mayor’s comments came as rumors of the potential sale of the Wynn Boston Harbor project run rampant, and Wynn officials are denying some reports, but not all of them. Those rumors seemed to get very serious on Tuesday afternoon, as signals out of City Hall became more focused in on the potential sale.
The most recent talk, DeMaria said he was told by a reporter on Tuesday, was that the Cordish Companies were in talks with Wynn Resorts. That couldn’t be substantiated by Wynn, but a Boston Globe story has apparently been alluding to those talks.
Cordish was an early entrant into the Massachusetts expanded gaming landscape and put some resources early into fighting for a license, only to withdraw before things got too far. Cordish operates casinos in Philadelphia and Maryland under Live! brand, amongst others.
Cordish didn’t respond to a request for comment from the Patriot-Bridge.
Around two weeks ago, the first sale rumors began floating around the community that Wynn Boston Harbor could be courting potential buyers of its project on Lower Broadway.
Some suggested Sheldon Adelson, a Dorchester native, could be interested in the project. Adelson owns the Las Vegas Sands and casinos in China as well, similar to Wynn.
Other reports in the New York City media had Wynn CEO Matt Maddox talking with MGM about taking on the project.
Wynn said it has a long-standing policy of not commenting on rumors, such as the one involving Adelson, and most of the news reports have not had any sources named in them.
Wynn Resorts Spokesman Michael Weaver has denied that talks are going on with MGM and Maddox, but nothing more has been said of the other supposed talks with buyers.
Yet, amidst all that speculation and rumor mongering, some have neglected to check in with Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who reminded everyone this week that no sale could go through without his approval – that being spelled out in the HCA with Wynn Resorts.
That was backed up by Gov. Charlie Baker, who said Tuesday the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) and the City of Everett will play major roles in any decision about a potential sale – if indeed those discussions are even happening.
“Keep in mind the Gaming Commission is ongoing and things that were important to many people – Steve Wynn leaving the board and Steve Wynn selling his stake – have happened, but certainly the Gaming Commission and the City of Everett have major roles to play on that site as they should,” he said to reporters.
Mayor DeMaria said he doesn’t have the confidence that another operator would be able to successfully operate a property that fits his and the community’s vision for Lower Broadway – one that isn’t just on the site, but within the whole district, an Entertainment District he has long talked about.
“Many Everett residents had been to Las Vegas and stayed in Wynn properties and knew the quality and luxury that they were about,” he said. “As you know, 86.8 percent of the residents who voted for this voted for it because it was part of the Wynn collection. If it was any other developer, it wouldn’t have gone this way. If it was anyone else but them, it doesn’t even get to a vote of the residents. The conversation would have never started.”
He added that he wants to work with Wynn because they have the same vision, that being to transform the entire area, not just the casino property.
“All these things I’ve been talking about for Lower Broadway and the Lower Broadway Master Plan, if it’s sold to a three-star operator, which I’m hearing they’re talking to Cordish now, they’re going to operate just on that one side,” he said. “They won’t buy the other side of the highway. They will make money on one building. If that’s the case, what happens in 10 to 20 years when it’s tired and old? It will be like Connecticut. They didn’t update those casinos for years until they started getting competition from Massachusetts. It’s only now that you start to see them invest in those properties there.”