WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — It looks like another casino developer is set to enter the competition to build a casino in Western Massachusetts.
On Friday, the Big E is scheduled to make an announcement that Hard Rock International is looking to put a casino on the Big E grounds.
The Big E sits on 175 acres of land off Memorial Avenue.
It is the home of New England’s great state fair that draws more than a million people to West Springfield every Fall.
Now, Hard Rock International is set to announce plans to build a casino at the Big E, presumably in that area of open space near Gate 9.
Brian Griffin is chairman of the West Springfield City Council’s casino committee.
“It’s the biggest economic development opportunity in the history of the town,” says Griffin.
He says resort is the key word for Hard Rock’s proposal. “It appears from the resort, gaming style legislation that exists in the state of Massachusetts, this fits that model completely,” says Griffin.
As for the future of the fair,”We’ve been assured that the 17-day fair is certainly going to be there, that is not going to change at all,” says Griffin.
A casino proposal at the Big E would bring to four the number of developers who have looked at Western Massachusetts for a site for a casino, two in Springfield with MGM in the South End , and Penn National in the North End as well as Mohegan Sun is Palmer.
So how would Hard Rock’s proposal for the Big E compare to the others in Western Massachusetts.
“I would expect something comparable if not exceeding that,” says Griffin.
In town, residents like James Moran were cool to the casino. “I really don’t think so just because of my experience with the Big E over the years. It’s congested anyway and I don’t believe that belongs in West Springfield,” says Moran.
Bob Derby also has his concerns. “I’ve heard it mentioned. My own feeling is I live here in town, I would think it’s be better off in the South End and help out downtown Springfield,” says Derby.