Springfield Leaders Remain Optimistic About MGM Project
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Springfield leaders remain cautiously optimistic that a resort-casino will someday come to Springfield’s South End.
The reaction as you might imagine was a level of appointment’s, but optimism nonetheless.
Mayor Domenic Sarno says the city overcame every hurdle so far to get to this point and this is just another one.
“This is about jobs and economic development. People are hungry and they want to work. Everywhere I go people ask me ‘Domenic, when is this going to start?’” Sarno explains.
That is the $800 million question and a South End casino hangs in the balance. It would be the largest development project in Springfield’s history.
But as officials were quick to point out at a morning press conference, it’s not the only one.
“We intend to go forward with all of our other projects. Of course, we hope that this project also goes forward and we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and we think Springfield is really on the move,” says Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s Chief Development Officer.
MGM is part of a $2.4 billion economic development project that also includes the I-91 viaduct deck replacement, a rebuilt Union Station, new market rate housing downtown, the UMass Center at Springfield campus, and a potential railroad car factory in East Springfield.
But it’s the resort casino that leaders say can turn the city around.
According to Sarno, it would immediately provide 2,500 construction jobs And some 3,000 permanent white and blue collar jobs.
Plus, there’s all the local revenue currently drawn to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.
45:33 from this area here going down south the ct way at least $1 billion of ma dollars going down south.
47:04 why should the pioneer valley continue to be deprived of entertainment options that go to mohegan sun are prohibited from coming here. Why? It doesn’t make any sense.
For their part, MGM has been hesitant to go forward with development, even after recently getting the green light from the Gaming Commission.
Still, the casino giant has – to date – honored it’s host community agreement with the city, including a $1 million payment just last week.
But for the majority of voters who overwhelmingly passed the South End project less than a year ago, and the officials who inked the deal, the upcoming November referendum and it’s resulting delays are frustrating.
54:09 you can’t dwell on victories too long. There’s always another fire to put out so we’re prepared and we’re optimistic in moving forward. Anybody who thought an 800 million dollar project was going to be easy was sadly mistaken.
Just as the anti-casino groups have started grassroots efforts to get the issue on the ballot this November, the mayor says the city and MGM have their own grassroots campaign to keep casino gambling legal.
Sarno explains that they’re prepared for the November ballot and ready to engage the public. When asked what his ‘game plans’ were, Sarno says it’s too early to reveal his cards.