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What does a flag mean to you?

Date: 6/25/2015

I realize this is more “inside baseball” about the MGM project, but I find this to be an interesting question.

You may have read that billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian died last week at age 98. This guy regularly made headlines for his business activity and was responsible for the construction of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as well as the re-branding of the MGM name to be synonymous with casinos resorts.

According to a piece written by Steven Gittelson on Bloomberg Business, Kerkorian was the controlling shareholder in MGM Resorts International until May 2009 when he reduced the number of shares from 54 percent to 37 percent.

That’s still quite a percentage.

So my question is what would happen to the direction of the company if the shares were bought by entities other than the company?

I realize there are folks who see this type of query as perhaps being critical of the MGM Springfield project. I don’t frame it that way at all. I live within a 20-minute walk of the MGM campus. The value of my home is riding on the casino: it could go up or down based on what kind of demand is created by MGM employees.

I’m a proud Springfield resident. I want my city to succeed. Three blocks of prime downtown real estate will be occupied by the casino project. I don’t want it to fail.

Let me repeat that: I don’t want MGM to fail. It can’t fail. There is too much riding on it.

There are factors, though, that are eroding my confidence. The movement in the state of Connecticut to try to solidify its regional hold on gaming through the addition of a new casino is one. The fact MGM is considering delaying the start of the Springfield project due perhaps to the I-91 renovations is another. The third are reports about some of the casino projects the company is undertaking, such as its second resort on Macau in China, the $2.9 billion casino called MGM Cotai.

Howard Stutz, writing for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, noted in a story on June 12, “The Chinese gaming market has been decimated in the last year after the Chinese government cracked down on corruption among the high-end junket operators. A dip in the Chinese economy has also contributed to a 37 percent decline in gaming revenue over the last 12 months. Wells Fargo Securities gaming analyst Cameron McKnight told investors Friday he expects Macau gaming revenue to decline between 34 percent and 38 percent in June, which would mark the market’s 13th straight monthly drop.”

Would that kind of drop affect how MGM management looks at the Springfield project?

We’ll see.

What does a flag mean to you?

If you fly a flag at your home, wear it on a lapel pin or as a bumper sticker on your car, aren’t you making a statement?

If I see an American flag displayed in any of those ways, I assume the person is a patriot. If I see a Gadsden flag – the yellow one with a coiled rattlesnake stating, “Don’t Tread on Me” – I assume the person supports the Tea Party movement that adopted the flag.

And if I see a Confederate flag, I assume the person displaying it supports the institutions of the War Between the States, including slavery and racial oppression.

Please don’t tell me it’s a reflection of “heritage.” I’ve got Southern roots on both sides of my family and I have at least one ancestor who fought and died for the Confederacy. I bet a lot of people who show that flag can’t make this statement.

“Heritage” in this instance cuts two ways. For whites who claim this as reason to display the Confederate flag they cite state’s rights and historic domination of northern states as the reasons behind it. For African-Americans that flag stands for injustice, cruelty and death.

And after the murders in South Carolina, its definition as a symbol of racism was underscored. So explain to me why this flag should be displayed with as much pride as the flag of our nation?

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.