WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Last Thursday, West Springfield Mayor Greg Neffinger signed the host community agreement between the city and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
On Tuesday, the Mayor was all smiles as he accepted a $400,000 check from them.
Hard Rock promised to give the money to the city within five days of signing the agreement.
“We feel that this gives us a change to do some real benefit to the community, and we feel that Hard Rock is putting forth a good faith effort in what they may be doing for the city of West Springfield if they get the license for the casino,” Neffinger says.
The $400,000 will be used to purchase the Elks lodge on Morgan Road, which will be used for community events, with millions more coming as part of the host community agreement.
“We’re giving money upfront and annually. $18 million a year for the duration of the license, and it will increase to some extent with inflation. Any kind of costs for mitigation impacts the city might have will be covered by that money. We believe the extra money could be used for lowering property taxes, improving public facilities,” said Time Maland, President of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino New England.
With casino fever in full swing on both sides of the bridge, Maland thinks Springfield’s vote will have an impact on how things turn out in West Springfield for their tentative casino vote on Sept. 10th, which is the same day as the state primary.
“We hope that with a vote of yes, the residents of West Springfield will be better off if it approves. If they vote no, it’ll be more difficult for some residents,” added Maland.
Mayor Neffinger adds that additional money in the agreement is already set aside for the casino’s social impacts, like gambling addictions.
The agreement also includes $40 million in upfront payments, focusing on traffic infrastructure, & police & fire safety investments.