Encore Boston Harbor preparing for 50,000 people at grand opening

EVERETT, MASS. (WHDH) - Encore Boston Harbor says it expects more than 50,000 people to show up at the casino’s grand opening this weekend. Ahead of the fanfare, Everett’s mayor is asking gamblers to leave their cars at home.

“If you want to have a nice day on Sunday, don’t drive,” Mayor Carlo DeMaria said Wednesday.

There will be 3,000 parking spots on site and hundreds more available at nearby lots when the $2.6 billion resort opens Sunday at 10 a.m. but casino president Robert DeSalvio is encouraging the use of alternative travel methods, including a year-round water transportation system.

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Those planning to visit the casino can do so by using casino shuttle buses, which will travel to off-site parking lots. A ferry service will also transport guests to and from downtown Boston. The MBTA’s Orange Line also has a stop on Broadway at Beacham Street.

DeSalvio says he has met with top MBTA officials and believes they’re prepared to handle the expected increase in ridership.

“I think they are putting in all the resources necessary,” he said. “It will take a while.”

Water taxis will ferry casino guests from Boston’s Seaport. Shuttle bus rides will carry people in from points north, south and west.

Come Sunday, 25 Everett police officers will be at the resort directing traffic. Dozens of officers from neighboring cities, state troopers, maritime units, and the Coast Guard will be monitoring public safety on the ground and in the Mystic River.

Everett’s Police Chief Steven Mazzie compared opening-day traffic concerns to Y2K fears.

“Everybody thought the world was going to stop,” he said. “The clocked ticked midnight and nothing really happened.”

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DeMaria says he’s glad the casino is finally opening its doors.

“It’s magical. I’ve never felt so safe in my life,” he said.

The resort offers the largest standard hotel rooms in New England, which feature 650 square feet of space, stunning views of Boston Harbor, and a clear look at the city skyline.

A harborwalk, indoor gardens, retail, convention, and wedding space is available on the grounds of the 27-story hotel tower.

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