Neighbors and Businesses React to Big E Casino Announcement
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) —
Hard Rock Casinos brought the glitz and the glamour Friday while announcing their plans for a resort style casino at the Big E. They invited all the nearby business owners to their presentation, but Memo’s Restaurant owner Dominic Pompi says they didn’t address the parking and traffic issues.
“They told us that they are working on it and obviously that’s a major obstacle that we are all waiting to hear about,” Pompi said.
Pompi says he hasn’t made up his mind if he’s for or against he casino yet. His focus is on his customers.
“What kind of traffic is it going to create if they take away the Big E parking lot and put the casino,” Pompi said. “Where are they going to go and how is it going to affect my regular customers?”
While mostly everyone agrees that a Big E Casino will affect Memorial Avenue businesses here in West Springfield. The Big E says it will be for the better.
“All of my friends on Memorial Avenue are going to do well,” President and CEO of the Big E Eugene Cassidy said. “You have to think of the number of employees that they have on their properties. At break time, at shift changes.”
Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen says he likes the idea of a secondary roadway to connect the casino, but doesn’t know where.
“I think it’s a little premature to say specifically because I think the right thing to do is the study,” Allen said. “Work with the mayor’s new commission on obviously gaming and then specific concerns on traffic and parking.”
West Springfield Police Chief Ronald Campurciani says he has questions about how a Springfield casino would affect the town. He has even more questions if Hard Rock builds at the Big E.
“Clearly if it’s here, we’re going to have a lot to say as far as manpower in order to fight those issues that may come up so those are things that we are going to have to look at,” Campurciani said.
Meantime, across the river in Agawam, EB’s Restaurant owner Ed Borgatti says he is in favor of the casino, saying it will bring business to the area while keeping the majesty of the annual Big E fair in the fall.
“There’s so much community and so much New England atmosphere that I think they are not going to lose, they are going to understand,” Borgatti said. “They always say you know remember where you came from and I think the Big E will do that.”