SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Ameristar has announced they are backing out of plans to seek a casino license in Springfield.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Ameristar says that “Although the Company believes it had the superior proposal for a casino in western Massachusetts, the Company concluded that there is not a sufficient likelihood that the basis upon which it could be awarded the license to develop and operate a casino in Springfield is favorable enough to warrant its further pursuit.”
The statement goes on to note that, “Specifically, the local selection process, various project requirements and associated costs led to the decision to reserve Ameristar’s resources for the Company’s growth and diversification for other more attractive opportunities.”
“The Springfield selection process could ultimately prohibit a company from participating in the local referendum and presenting our project at the state level. In addition to that the city requirement for us to pay a significant non-refundable fee to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission without any guarantee that our project will be considered by the Gaming Commission is concerning,” said Troy Stremming, Ameristar Senior Vice President.
Earlier this year, Ameristar purchased the 40 acres of land off Page Boulevard that formerly housed the Westinghouse facility. Ameristar said Friday that they had not made any decisions about the marketing of the site.
Speaking about the site, “Ameristar believes this is the single largest commercially developable site in the City of Springfield. The site’s size, location and ease of access to major highways make it attractive for a variety of large scale developments in addition to a casino,” the company’s statement adds.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, reacting to Friday’s news, says, “Obviously the City is very disappointed in Ameristar’s decision to withdraw from the competition to locate a world class resort casino in Springfield. Ameristar made a strong proposal for an exciting project that would have given our voters a clear choice as to the type of location that would best serve the City.
Sarno adds that he remains “…confident that the proposals of MGM and Penn Gaming will create a robust competition resulting in a project that will not only revitalize Springfield, create thousands of good paying jobs for our residents, and significant opportunities for our business community with sustainable economic benefits for our great City, but also for Western Massachusetts, and the State.”
East Springfield Neighborhood Council President Kathleen Brown is surprised at the announcement.
“I am disappointed that they’ve chosen to make a business decision right now to pull out of the competition is so critical to the best proposal coming to Springfield,” said Brown.
With Ameristar withdrawing their bid for a Springfield casino, it now leaves MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming the two remaining companies vying for a resort casino in the city.