Arrigo chafes at Mohegan Sun deal
Agreement bars Revere from doing deal with Wynn
This story was updated after its initial publication with comments from Dan Rizzo.
Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo wants to negotiate a surrounding community agreement with Wynn Resorts in next-door Everett, but he says he’s prevented from doing so by a contract his predecessor signed with rival casino operator Mohegan Sun.
Every municipality bordering Everett has negotiated a surrounding community agreement with Wynn Resorts, some worth tens of millions of dollars. Boston, for example, late last month came to terms with Wynn Resorts on a surrounding community agreement after more than a year of legal jousting. The deal commits the Las Vegas developer to provide $68 million in mitigation funds to the city and engage in a good-faith effort to purchase $20 million in goods over 15 years from Boston businesses.
Arrigo said the city was originally barred from negotiating a similar deal because of a host community agreement former mayor Dan Rizzo signed with Mohegan Sun when the company was trying to win a license to open a casino on a portion of Suffolk Downs in Revere. Even though Mohegan Sun lost its bid to win the license more than a year ago, a provision in the agreement still bars Revere from negotiating a deal with the license winner, Wynn Resorts, which plans to build a $1.7 billion casino in Everett.
Neither has happened. The Gaming Commission typically doesn’t order communities to enter into surrounding community agreements. Mohegan Sun lost its bid to win the casino license in September 2014, but the company’s deal with Revere remains in effect because the firm is still appealing the Gaming Commission’s award of the license to Wynn Resorts. Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders in December tossed out several challenges to Wynn’s license award, but allowed Mohegan Sun to continue pursuing its claim.
Last summer, prior to his election, Arrigo posted a message on Facebook saying a surrounding community agreement with Wynn Resorts could net the city between $10 million and $15 million. Arrigo said it’s unlikely the city would receive that kind of money now because Wynn is preparing to begin construction in a few months. Still, Arrigo said, he would push Wynn to commit to hiring workers from Revere and to purchasing goods from Revere businesses.
“I’d like to open up the dialogue about some kind of mitigation package,” Arrigo said. “I’d like to have that conversation.”
He calls the agreement negotiated with Mohegan Sun by Rizzo “a little shortsighted” and a blow to the city’s future. “To walk away with nothing is really a dereliction of duty,” he said.
Rizzo, who was upset by Arrigo in a very tight race and is now mounting a campaign for the Massachusetts Senate, said in a phone interview that he negotiated the deal with Mohegan Sun because it offered the city the greatest upside. “It was a tradeoff,” he said of the provision cited by Arrigo. “In exchange for our commitment and loyalty to the project at Suffolk Downs, we got better terms.”
Rizzo also pointed out that Arrigo as a Revere city councilor voted twice for the host community agreement, first with Caesars Entertainment and later with Mohegan Sun when Caesars withdrew. “He can be critical all he wants, but he either didn’t read the first two agreements or he’s changing his mind,” he said.Arrigo described himself as a “tenuous supporter” of the proposed Mohegan Sun casino. He said he ultimately supported the project because of its potential long-term benefits for the city.
Michael Weaver, a spokesman for Wynn Resorts, issued a statement saying the company wants to have “positive working relationships” with all nearby communities. “It is indeed unfortunate that Mohegan Sun engineered an agreement, inherited by Mayor Arrigo, which prevents the city of Revere and its citizens from enjoying a positive relationship with our company, including the right to any direct benefits, with the further problem of obligating Revere to continue to support a project that the Gaming Commission rejected more than a year ago.”