SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Springfield voters will have to wait a little longer to decide if they want a casino.
City leaders were hoping for a vote On June 25, the same day as the state’s special senate election, but that won’t happen.
The city is still working on a host agreement with both MGM and Penn National Gaming.
MGM wants to build an $800 million casino in the city’s South End. Penn National Gaming has countered with an $800 million casino proposal in the city’s North End.
There is still work to be done even though both sides are making progress toward an agreement says Springfield’s Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy.
“We’re very close. I’m hoping that in the matter of a couple of weeks. We’re in pretty good shape there,” says Kennedy.
Because of the complexities of negotiations, the city couldn’t reach a host agreement by this week, which they needed to put the question on the ballot on June 25th.
Now that Springfield will not be voting on the casino question June 25th, when will that election beheld, that is still uncertain but Kevin Kennedy says within a couple of weeks a host agreement will be presented to Mayor Sarno and it will be his decision which way to move forward.
And all indications says Kennedy point to Mayor Sarno selecting “one” of the two proposals that will be before him.
“That will be for the mayor to decide, when he makes that announcement, my position is clear, each one of the company’s position has been clear that ‘one’ is the way to go , the city council site committee said the same thing but again that’s the mayor’s decision,” says Kennedy.
Once the mayor selects a community host agreement, the city council must approve it and then an election date will be set up for the people to decide yes or no.
Meanwhile, Springfield City Council President James Ferrera is asking the make quick work and make a decision on a casino firm, saying that “The City’s consultants have worked for both MGM and Penn National over a period of years and must have a great deal of insight into their performance.”
“Competition is good up to a point than it can become self defeating, costly, and could be damaging to the City’s chances of passing a referendum. Therefore I will be asking the City Council Casino Site Committee to vote once again to urge the Mayor to move forward with his selection of one casino,” Ferrera adds in a statement.
Springfield’s Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy notes, “The recent approval by the Gaming Commission to authorize a referendum prior to a finding of suitability had us hopeful that we could complete the process in a timeframe to meet that date, but considering the short time frame, we are mindful that the calendar is against us on submitting the host community agreement(s) as we hoped.”