Wynn details casino envisioned near Patriots' home

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By BOB SALSBERG, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn unveiled details Friday of a proposed Massachusetts resort casino he hopes to develop near the home of the New England Patriots.

Wynn mailed a brochure and 20-minute DVD to thousands of Foxborough households explaining the proposal, which has met resistance from many residents who are worried that it will add to traffic congestion and crime in the town about 25 miles south of Boston.

An artist's rendering depicts a sprawling, six-story building that resembles a rustic lodge, rather than a high-rise Las Vegas-style casino. It would be built on vacant land across from Gillette Stadium that would be leased from Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Wynn, the billionaire CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd, had earlier pledged that the proposed casino would fit the character of the town and would not be as large or flashy as the typical Las Vegas casino.

In a letter accompanying the brochure and DVD, Wynn said the casino would benefit the town "both socially and economically." He said the plans included a luxury hotel, convention space, more than 5,000 covered parking spaces, a public skating rink, high-end shops, a spa, fine dining and casual restaurants, and a performance theater.

The casino would create more than 4,000 permanent jobs and about 10,000 construction jobs, Wynn wrote, and it would generate between $10 million and $15 million for Foxborough that could be used to lower property taxes or invest in other town services. He also said an agreement could be reached with the town to cover public safety and other costs associated with the casino and that a study would be done to determine the traffic impact.

"We're excited by the design and the unique opportunity the Wynn Resorts project presents for long-term economic growth in Foxborough," Kraft Group spokesman Dan Krantz said.

"Since bringing forth the idea in December of last year, Wynn Resorts has followed through on a commitment to generate renderings and estimate the resort's direct tax benefits. As we anticipated, the design and décor assimilates to its surroundings, and is likely in stark contrast to the Las Vegas-style high-rise that some may have envisioned," he said.

Stephanie Crimmins, a spokeswoman for the group No Foxboro Casino, said casino opponents had anticipated that Wynn would launch a public relations blitz aimed at the hearts and minds of residents.

"We fully expected all along that they were going to send out some really fancy brochures," Crimmins said." It is certainly not going to change my mind or the minds of most people in the community."

Crimmins noted that Foxborough officials had not yet moved to enter into negotiations with Wynn, nor had they moved to revise town bylaws that currently prohibit gambling. She said opponents also question the jobs and revenue estimates provided by developers.

"These casino developers consistently over-promise and under-deliver," she said. "That is something that has happened over and over again in every town and city in the country in which there has been a casino developed."

Under the state's new gambling law approved by the Legislature last year and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick, a majority of town residents would have to approve the casino proposal in a referendum.

If approved by voters, the proposal would also likely have to compete with others for the sole casino license in eastern Massachusetts under the new law, which would also allow for resort-style casinos in two other regions of the state. The licenses will be awarded by a new state gambling commission that is currently being formed.

The mailing and DVD is the latest in what has been a costly effort by Wynn to expand into the Massachusetts gambling market.

An Associated Press review of state lobbying records found that a Las Vegas-based Wynn subsidiary, Development Associates, LLC, spent more than $863,000 on lobbying in just the past three years to persuade state lawmakers to legalize casino gambling.

Wynn's chief rival for the single casino license in the greater metropolitan Boston area — Sterling Suffolk Racecourse — spent more than $2.8 million on lobbying in the past five years as it seeks to turn the Suffolk Down racetrack in East Boston into a destination casino.

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