The Legislature might want to award a few more racing dates to Suffolk Downs to hedge against the growing view that Amazon will site its $5 billion HQ2 project somewhere other than Boston.
The online betting now leans toward Northern Virginia as the favorite to land Amazon’s projected 50,000-person workforce with a plus-$240, meaning you can bet $100 to win $240. Boston has dropped to fourth in the 20-city wagering, with a plus-$450 moneyline.
Another form of betting is also underway as real estate speculators, who know what to do with their money, are gobbling up commercial properties in some of the leading cities or lining up funding so they can make a quick hit when the expected announcement comes by the end of the year. Again, not a lot of outside activity in Boston, though part of that may be an uncertainty where Amazon would land here — East Boston, Somerville, the Seaport, or somewhere else — as well as the high cost and low availability of property.
But it’s not just the bettors reading the tea leaves as more reports show officials are revisiting a handful of cities on the shortlist, and none of the reports say Boston. Other cities, such as Denver, are also losing hope after not being asked to dance a second time.
New York, Newark, Miami, and Washington, DC, all reportedly were paid return visits by Amazon officials and observers say it’s the Washington-Northern Virginia area that checks most of the boxes, not in small part due to Jeff Bezos’ growing ties and affinity for the region (he owns the Washington Post).
Some are cautioning not to read too much into the second visits for a number of reasons. Maybe Amazon officials got enough information from the first go-around, for instance. After all, they are moving forward on new office space in the Seaport with room for 2,000 employees. Or maybe they have come and gone stealthily, their visit unnoticed.
“I’ve seen a lot of commentary in the media that it must mean these cities they visited have a leg up,” Katie Culp, president of an Indianapolis site selection consulting firm told the Boston Globe. “I think that’s flawed.”
Crystal City, where the Pentagon is located, is mentioned most often as the likely landing spot. One Metro stop from the nation’s capital, and one from Reagan National Airport, as well as easy access to Dulles International Airport, it satisfies the transportation requirement. With the county having one of the most educated workforces in the country, there will be no concerns about attracting qualified employees.
While Boston could compete with those qualities – hey, the MBTA is in no worse shape than Metro – the one area the Hub is lacking is proximity to the center of political power as well as the bipartisan shade of purple Virginia now exudes. That paints the region as a swing state that would require attention from both sides of the aisle to take care of a major employer of thousands of voters who would rely on the tech behemoth for income. It’s called covering all your bets.