SPRINGFIELD – With a backdrop of construction equipment and workers that conveyed the imminent demolition of the former Zanetti School, elected officials and the leadership of MGM Resorts International officially broke ground on the $800 million casino that will dominate the South End neighborhood.
Although demolition has not yet started and the Interstate 91 viaduct project is slated to start as well, MGM officials confirmed the Springfield casino would be completed in the fall of 2017.
With Las Vegas style, the groundbreaking featured a truck with a huge video screen that displayed the renderings of the casino complex. Visitors were encouraged to write down their wishes for the city and deposit them in a wishing well – the thoughts would be included in a time capsule. After the ceremonial tossing of shovelfuls of dirt a confetti cannon blasted white and blue paper shreds around the area.
The groundbreaking ceremony attracted hundreds of people as well as media from Boston, Hartford, CT, and Albany, NY. The addition of a casino in Massachusetts is part of a growing number of gaming attractions in bordering states.
New casinos have been proposed for the communities of Thompson, Schenectady and Tyre, NY.
Connecticut lawmakers are being asked to consider expanding its gaming efforts by building a casino or slot parlors in the northern part of the state to intercept Connecticut residents in their way to MGM Springfield. As Reminder Publications recently reported, according to the Northeastern Gaming Research Project, revenues at the two Connecticut casinos have fallen and analysts believe the Springfield casino will further erode their market share.
According to a written statement from MGM, during the next several weeks remediation of hazardous materials from the buildings on the campus before demolition. At the same time, the resort company will continue finalizing agreements with local contractors for the initial site preparation.
The speakers at the event all extolled MGM as a company and the potential for economic development the casino represents. The company predicts it will create 2,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs.
Ethel Griffin of Revitalize CDC said, “They [MGM] are real people and they will make a real difference for our young people.”
Stephen Crosby, chair of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, called the groundbreaking “a genuinely historic moment.” He described the casino a catalyst for job creation and repeated the reasons why MGM was chosen for a license: its global reputation, its mixed use approach to the resort, strong community support, a commitment to diversity and the expected revenues for the city and the state.
James Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International called the casino a “foundation of a new era.”
He added the process so far has been a “journey of progress and greatness will follow.”
The casino complex will include a 25-story, 250-room hotel with a spa, a pool and roof deck; 125,000 square feet of gaming space with 3,000 slot machines, 75 gaming tables, a poker room and high limit VIP gambling area; about 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space that will accommodate 15 shops and restaurants; and a multi-level parking garage. There will also be an eight-screen movie theater, a bowling alley and an outdoor stage.