The opening ceremonies on Sunday morning, June 23, quickly became a spotlight for Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who rejoiced in being able to tell the large crowds assembled to celebrate the opening that Lower Broadway is no longer Bostonâ€™s back door, but rather the front door to Everett.
While other speakers made excellent points on what was an historic day in the state and the City, it was those words of Mayor DeMaria that hammered home
â€œTo the residents of Everett, Everett United and the 86 percent of the people on a Saturday who took the time to vote â€˜yesâ€™ for a resort in our city, this truly is an amazing day,â€ he said. â€œFor those of you who suffered through Monsanto and other big industries that polluted our properties and got us all very sick, I want to thank you for all you did; people like (the late) Mary Bagarella and others. No longer when you drive through Everett will you smell gas and Sulphur and oils, but youâ€™ll smell flowers and trees. We will no longer be the back door to the City of Boston. We will now be the front door to the City of Everett.â€
And it was true.
As he spoke on what was an extraordinary summer morning, the new trees on the Porte Cochere rustled in the wind, and songbirds flew in and out of the crowd assembled for the opening from tree to tree.
There were no songbirds on the site five years ago, quite certainly.
And beyond the Encore site, there still exist areas up and down Lower Broadway that look more like the past than the present at 1 Broadway (the Encore address).
DeMaria said that will also change, and he said he plans to continue partnering with Encore and others to make that full change.
â€œThis was always going to be a Wynn,â€ he said. â€œThere was never any dispute, and thatâ€™s because years ago a great man promised me that their company would be part of this community â€“ that we would be partners for lifeâ€¦Iâ€™m that type of guy. When someone gives me their word, I figure theyâ€™re with me forever. Weâ€™re going to redevelop this entire Lower Broadway area. Weâ€™re going to transform this whole area. Itâ€™s going to be a reliable corridor for transportation and Silver Line, and BRT (bus rapid transit), water taxis and a real connection to the Orange Line. Weâ€™re going to take this superfund site and make it a super site.â€
Going back, and referencing the many negative articles placed in Boston newspapers about him, DeMaria thanked his wife and family for enduring those news stories. It was, he said, fighting back tears, a very trying time for him.
â€œIf it werenâ€™t for my wife, we wouldnâ€™t be here today,â€ he said. â€œI want to thank her for standing by my side when people took shots at me. She knew the truth the whole time. I want to thank my father-in-law who talked her through some tough days.â€
Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox led off his comments by saying that the goals of the state expanded gaming laws had been met in Greater Boston by Encore.
â€œWhat an amazing day it is today,â€ he said. â€œEight years ago the people of Massachusetts and the lawmakers had the foresight to understand that with the passage of gaming regulation there could be the possibility of urban renewal, economic development and for the finest integrated resorts in the world. Those were the goals and Iâ€™m here to tell you that Encore Boston Harbor has achieved those goals.â€
Like DeMaria, he also emphasized the environmental transformation of the site from desolate to decadent â€“ with a big â€˜thank youâ€™ to the trades for transforming it during construction.
â€œSeven years ago I was standing here on this site with the mayor, just us two, and there wasnâ€™t a blade of grass on the site,â€ he said. â€œNow there are 1,000 mature trees, 50,000 flowering plants, tens of thousands of shrubs and a living shoreline for the first time in 100 yearsâ€¦The building trades, the men and women who built this under the leadership of John Fish and Suffolk Construction, are the best our company has ever seen.â€
Cathy Judd-Stein, chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC), said the opening of Encore was the opening of prosperity to all residents of the state.
â€œEncore Boston Harborâ€™s opening not only marks the arrival of an international entertainment destination on Everettâ€™s spectacular shoreline, but also symbolizes a new opportunity for economic growth for all the citizens of Massachusetts,â€ she said. â€œThis state has one of the most stringent gaming laws in the country and its standards are high. Encore Boston Harbor has met those requirements and, indeed, in many instances exceeded those commitmentsâ€¦Encore has demonstrated a relentless dedication to diversity and local spending and hiringâ€¦and provided substantial mitigation funding to host and surrounding communities.â€
Encore President Bob DeSalvio gave a big thanks to Everett United, the local support group of residents who have stuck by the company during many ups and downs.
â€œEverett United, thank you,â€ he said. â€œYouâ€™ve been with us all the way from the beginning. We could not be more pleased you are here to join us today.â€
The ceremony concluded with a ribbon cutting, featuring several employees and public officials.
Then there was a countdown from 10, and a surprise day-time fireworks show erupted over the Encore cove and the Mystic River.
In the background, Frank Sinatraâ€™s â€˜Nothing but the bestâ€™ played over a loudspeaker as those on the Porte Cochere erupted into loud applause.
And then the doors opened, or rather, were opened for everyone by Everett resident â€“ and Encore doorman â€“ Gasper Ambrose. The casino is open 24-hours a day.