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Springfield Chooses MGM Casino Project, Penn National Gaming Out

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — After weeks of deliberations and negotiations, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says that the city has reached a casino host agreement with MGM Resorts International.

The announcement was made Tuesday morning at Springfield City Hall by Sarno, who says that “It has been a spirited competition and a long and arduous process.”

The next step will be for the host agreement to be approved by Springfield’s City Council, and once that approval is reached, a binding referendum question will be put before the voters.

City officials hope to hold that referendum vote July 16.

In a statement posted on Facebook, MGM noted, “We are very grateful and excited that Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and his Advisory Committee have chosen MGM Springfield to move ahead in the process to bring a world-class entertainment, retail and dining resort to Downtown Springfield. We would like to thank the Mayor and his advisors for their steadfast leadership during the most rigorous gaming-license approval process in the Commonwealth.”

As part of the host agreement, MGM pledges to bring 3,000 permanent jobs, along with 2,000 construction jobs as part of the $800 million project.

Thirty-five percent of those employees will go to people of Springfield, Sarno adds.

The agreement also brings a commitment from MGM to help underwrite and promote up to 12 entertainment and theatrical events for downtown Springfield, utilizing venues including Symphony Hall, CityStage, and MassMutual Center.

Springfield’s Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy adds that the city is looking to create a downtown police patrol, with the addition of 15 officers and equipment to patrol not just the area around the casino, but the entire downtown district.

Both MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming had proposed multi-million dollar casino projects for the city.

Eric Schippers, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Penn National Gaming says in a statement released Tuesday that they are obviously disappointed in the news, but adds that “we respect the Mayor’s decision and want to thank him and his entire team for what has been a fair and open process.”

The Mass. Gaming Commission, under the expanded gaming law, can award one casino license for the Western Massachusetts region.

Two other companies are also vying for that one license, including Mohegan Sun for a project off the Mass. Turnpike in Palmer, and Hard Rock is looking for a casino on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield.

Kennedy noted that if “all goes well” with regards to permits and licenses, it’s probable that MGM Springfield would be complete by mid-to-late 2016.

CLICK HERE to read a summary of the terms of the host agreement between the city and MGM Resorts International

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WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.
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