SPRINGFIELD, Mass.-- The votes were passed, the legal obstacles hurdled, and on Tuesday there were shovels digging in for what's billed as an 800 million wager for the city of Springfield.
City leaders and casino brass officially broke ground on the MGM Springfield, which will occupy 14 acres in downtown Springfield and include a 24-story luxury hotel with 125,000 square feet of gaming space, restaurants and shops. There will even be 54 apartments on the land.
"It's our time, it's MGM's time," remarked Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno as the crowd cheered on a black top lot that will soon be transformed. Sarno, a long time proponent of the MGM project said, "It's about bringing jobs, you have to put people to work."
MGM's chairman and CEO, Jim Murren, also took the stage and expressed excitement about the future. "MGM Springfield will bring new experiences, new vitality, new vibrancy and most of all jobs and opportunities for the people of Springfield and Western Massachusetts," he said.
With the building of MGM on the horizon, there are counter strategies being discussed in Connecticut. Both Connecticut based casino resorts--Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun--have expressed their interest in building a joint casino somewhere along 1-91, south of Springfield, in an effort to hold on to their customer base.
When asked about the Connecticut casinos' potential plans, Murren said, "I can't control what other people do, we've always learned if we build the best resorts we will prevail."
Sarno echoed those sentiments: "What Connecticut does, that's up to them, its one thing to talk about it, it's another thing to do it, we are doing it."
MGM Springfield is scheduled for completion sometime in the fall of 2017. In the near term, around 2,000 construction workers will be building the mixed-use entertainment and gaming space.