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Penn National Gaming Unveils Plans for North End Casino

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – With a city deadline, Penn National Gaming has released their plans for a North End casino.

The $807 million casino project would be built on 13.4 acres of land currently occupied by The Republican and the Peter Pan Bus Terminal.

The casino, which would be part of Penn National’s ‘Hollywood’ brand, would feature 3,000 to 3,500 slot machines, 80 to 100 table games, several poker rooms, as well as a 300 to 500 room hotel.

Company officials say that the complex will integrate “seamlessly” into the neighborhood.

Eric Schippers, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for Penn National Gaming downplayed the company’s taking this long to enter the competition.

“It’s actually the start of the race, not the end of the race,” said Schippers. “The reason why we haven’t made our announcement thus far is that there a lot of moving parts in our proposal.”

The complex would also house several restaurants, a spa, nightclub and lounge, a parking garage for at least 4,000 cars, and 30,000 to 45,000 square feet of meeting and convention space.

Peter Carlino, Chairman and CEO of Penn National Gaming, says in a statement, “Penn National’s proven track record of developing first-class destination gaming and entertainment resorts in urban locations including most recently Toledo and Columbus, as well as our strong balance sheet, make us the ideal partner to usher in a renaissance for Springfield’s downtown area. Our proposed $807 million destination casino resort will be the centerpiece of a revitalization of the City and bring thousands of new permanent jobs, significant union construction jobs, and millions of tax dollars to the region.”

According to Penn National, the firm is planning on working with Peter Pan CEO Peter Picknelly on the project.

Penn National is proposing to move the Peter Pan Bus Terminal to the renovated Union Station and The Republican to a “newly renovated downtown location featuring a state-of-the-art village square in the heart of the city” along with a new printing press in the city, the company says in a statement.

In a statement, Picknelly says, “I am excited about the partnership we’ve formed with Penn National Gaming. Penn shares our vision, our values, and has a terrific record of partnering successfully with local communities to develop and operate urban casinos. As a lifelong resident of Springfield, I take great pride in being associated with this proposal. The $807 million project that we’ve unveiled today holds the potential to dramatically transform the economic future of our city. Not only will it create new jobs and additional tax revenue, it will serve as a catalyst for all sorts of additional development across the city.”

Penn National also intends to “assist in the refurbishment of the historic Paramount Theater and house additional administrative offices in the building.”

In addition to the North End project, Penn National says that it will work to attract “a large retailer” for the former Westinghouse site on Page Boulevard, which is currently owned by Ameristar Casinos.

“Ameristar went ahead and purchased that land for $16 million dollars,” said Schippers. “It would be cause for concern for Springfield or any community to wonder what’s going to happen to that land. Is it going to lie fallow for years trying to find another buyer. So, all we’re saying is we will help to address and help them with at least one concern they might have.”

Ameristar says it hasn’t had any talks with Penn National. It also said it has no other plans for the land they own other than a casino.