EVERETT — Police Chief Steven Mazzie likened Sunday’s grand opening of Encore Boston Harbor to the Y2K scare leading up to Jan. 1, 2000.
“Everybody thought the world was going to stop,” the Everett chief recalled at a news conference Wednesday. “I was working that night and the clock ticked at midnight and nothing really happened. We just continued on, doing our job. The computers didn’t crash, the world didn’t end, the stock market was fine.”
So, while the traffic will probably be pretty bad near the casino Sunday, the world won’t end.
“I believe as we move forward and on opening day everything is going to be just fine,” he said.
Mazzie joined Encore Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, and Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Colonel Robert Favuzza to discuss plans around traffic, public transportation, and safety for the casino’s long-awaited opening.
The bottom line?
“If you want to have a nice day on Sunday, don’t drive,” DeMaria said.
Officials outlined a range of public transportation options for patrons, including free shuttles every 10 to 20 minutes from the Wellington and Malden Center Orange Line stations, free shuttles every 20 minutes from the Wonderland stop, and $7 bus rides from park-and-ride lots in Londonderry, N.H., Rockland, and Millbury.
Other options include Bluebikes or $7 shuttle boats from the World Trade Center dock in the Seaport or the Long Wharf North dock downtown.
“With all these options, there is no reason to drive here,” DeMaria said. “We want you to enjoy your experience without having to navigate the roads on what we all know will be a very busy day.”
Opening at 10 a.m. on a Sunday was a calculated decision — it’s a light commuter hour.
“What’s different about Encore than other businesses is that our peak times are going to be Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday during the day, which is good because it’s opposite normal commuter hours,” Encore president DeSalvio said.
On its busiest days, the casino expects around 50,000 people.
A 24-hour parking lot has been built close to the casino. Those who dare to park on city streets could face a $50 ticket, Mazzie warned.
Encore has reserved a parking lot for ride-hailing drivers to wait for passenger requests in hopes of discouraging them from circling the casino.
“They’ve thought of pretty much everything, every way to try to mitigate a lot of the problems related to traffic, which I think is one of the number one concerns,” Mazzie said of casino staff.
DeMaria said he is “lost for words” every time he visits the casino along the Mystic River. Mazzie, who like DeMaria grew up in Everett, said it was “therapeutic” to see the casino finished.
“To stand here and compare what was here before is unbelievable,” he said. Close to 1,000 local residents will be working at the casino, officials said.
DeMaria said his proudest accomplishment is that the stretch of river by the casino, once home to a chemical plant, has been declared safe for swimming after a massive cleanup.
“That’s never happened in the life of this property,” he said.
DeMaria joked with DeSalvio that he would have preferred the casino be named the Encore Everett Mystic River.
“We’ll talk,” DeMaria said.