The death of Wonderland

August 25, 2010
By

Wonderland Dog Racing Track closed last week.

The track shut its doors without much notice on a lazy Friday morning at the end of summer.

Thus ended a track with a seven-decade history and an industry in one fell swoop.

The end was coming but was hastened by the failure of the state to pass an expanded gambling bill, which would have allowed for casinos and slot machines.

The slot machines were suggested to aid the tracks.

The casinos were part of the deal to recoup hundreds of millions of Massachusetts residents dollars that goes down to the casinos in Connecticut.

In addition, the casinos would have provided the state with hundreds of millions in licensing fees and then there would have been construction jobs and everything that would have come as a result of this new industry taking hold in the state initially.

Instead, there was the closing of Wonderland last week.

About 100 employees were laid off, including a good number from East Boston.

Suffolk Downs is set to officially purchase the Wonderland property – approximately 55 acres of prime urban land.

Prime for what, is the question.

Suffolk Downs officials have indicated that the property may be developed by a major commercial developer.

This means the Wonderland site may become a shopping center or some derivative thereof.

Because of the weak housing market, it is unlikely the site would be used for residential construction.

At the beginning of the summer there were soaring hopes and all kinds of speculation that the legislature would cause Wonderland and Suffolk Downs to become bidders in the expanded gambling bonanza expected to accrue from the passage of the bill allowing it.

Instead, we have the end of summer, no passage of that bill, and now the closing of Wonderland.

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