WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — New numbers show West Springfield may be coming around when it comes to a Hard Rock Casino at the Eastern States Exposition.
Hard rock says earlier this spring, they were double digits behind when it came to polling residents. The numbers continue to even out — just over two weeks before the referendum vote on September 10th.
The fight to the finish appears to be a right race. The poll of 300 likely West Springfield voters was taken earlier this month. By a margin of 50-41, it showed residents supported Hard Rock. Nine percent of likely voters were still undecided.
“We’ve been talking to them more and more, and we’ve been surveying and seeing the needle in the surveys move up into this point now finally we have the majority of the population’s support,” Hard Rock New England President Tim Maland said.
Including resident Jeffrey Marcil. He’s concerned for his community if MGM Springfield is awarded a license.
“Springfield will get all the tax benefits and reap all those type of benefits when West Springfield won’t,” he said. “We’ll have to deal with those kinds of situations that come to our town.”
A town that seems torn. Nathan Bech is president of “No Casino West Springfield” and says their support is growing too.
He says the group’s concerns are clearly written on their sign: they are concerned about the long term promises of Hard Rock. They also fear crime, poverty, blight, and traffic issues.
“The message that they are promoting is that everything is going to be wonderful,” Bech said. “Everything is going to be great, if you just, you know, ‘vote yes’ and allow us into your town. Of course they are going to say that. They are a billion dollar corporation.”
Al Lafleche isn’t buying the message. He’s concerned about traffic.
“I also don’t like the idea that the vote is on the 10th right before the Big E so people have had 11 months to forgot how bad traffic is in town during the Big E,” Lafleche said. “Which, we are two miles away and it still affects us significantly.”
Both sides agree it’s a close race and plan to ramp up their campaigns with door knocks and rallies before the September 10th referendum vote.
Springfield voted in favor of MGM Springfield back in July.