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City Council President Requests Sentence to be Added to Host Agreement

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Springfield’s city council president is urging MGM and Mayor Domenic Sarno to “end the confusion” over the possible investment of MGM in a casino project and include one sentence into the host agreement.

Wednesday, City Council President James Ferrera III sent a letter to Sarno and Bill Hornbuckle, President of MGM Springfield and MGM Resorts International, asking the pair to include a sentence that would indicate a monetary value of the investment.

Currently, Ferrera says that no such sentence exists in the agreement signed last Wednesday between MGM and the City of Springfield.

The sentence he seeks would be identical to one placed in a host agreement reached between casino mogul Steve Wynn and the City of Everett.

It reads in part that “one shall invest not less than one billion dollars in the development of the project.”

In the letter, Ferrera cites differing figures on how much MGM is committing to spend in Springfield, ranging from “something less than $800 million” as reportedly discussed by the Springfield Redevelopment Authority to MGM’s Phase II application saying the project would be about $851 million.

“Let’s end the confusion and what can be misleading to the public and adopt the simple little sentence that is already in the Everett host agreement,” he says.

Ferrera concludes the letter by saying, “Quite frankly if the Mayor and MGM can’t quickly agree to inserting a “not less than investment amount” into the host agreement I would have serious reservations about the entire project.”

Late Wednesday afternoon, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno issued this statement, from the city’s casino consultant Cezar Froelich of the law firm of Shefsky & Froelich Ltd.

“The heavily negotiated Host Community Agreement between MGM and the City of Springfield includes more extensive safeguards guaranteeing MGM will build a world class casino resort and entertainment destination exactly as MGM promised to the residents of Springfield. The Host Community Agreement describes in great detail the exact project MGM will build, specifying each of the constituent components including the various project amenities such as hotel, spa, retail, office, residential, back of house, child care center, parks, skating rink, number of restaurants and minimum number of yearly entertainment events. Further, the Host Community Agreement specifies the minimum square footages for these components. MGM must deliver to the City 50% construction documents and 95% construction documents so that the City can verify compliance with the Host Community Agreement requirements.”

“In this way, the City knows exactly what MGM will build. Additionally, the Host Community Agreement specifies that the project will be built in accordance with first class standards, which for the avoidance of doubt, is the standard of construction and finish at the MGM Grand Resort in Las Vegas. While we believe the ultimate cost of the project will be $800 million or more, we are more interested in making sure MGM builds what it promised and we are confident it will.”

“Everett’s approach was completely different in that their Host Community Agreement does not obligate the developer to build a specific type of casino resort or what elements will be included in the resort. Instead Everett chose to require a minimum investment by its developer.”

“While both approaches are reasonable, the City of Springfield chose to have the safeguard of having MGM build what it promised regardless of the cost.”

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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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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