Voters on Tuesday rejected Hard Rock International’s proposal to build an $800 million resort casino with a live-music venue, retail and hotel on the campus of The Big E.
“We communicated our message and I think we were clear. But the message the voters heard wasn’t enough to convince them that we were trying to bring them more than a casino,” Tim Maland, president of the company’s New England division said. “But they voted with their heart and conscience and it was close. I can respect that.” said.
In the end, 7,578 residents or 45.68 percent turned out to vote, with the proposition losing by just 752 votes.
Many who live in the poorest parts of West Springfield felt this was their chance to change the impoverished conditions surrounding them with the promise of jobs and more community financial stability. But in the end, those from No Casino West Springfield group influenced more to believe that a casino was more evil than good.
Now, there are two – MGM Resorts International’s Springfield casino proposal and Mohegan Sun’s Palmer project to battle for the state’s sole Western Massachusetts casino license. Supporters of many “No Casino” groups in the state are ready to mobilize troupes to Palmer before their November Vote.
I feel it’s a draw, and The Gaming Commission should take a good hard look at what each -MGM & Mohegan Sun – will provide for the state, as well as the surrounding communities. Without major changes to the traffic infrastructure in the already night-marish drive through Springfield, I see Mohegan Sun as a better bet – especially for the economic recovery of an old mill town like Palmer.
If The “No Casino” groups want a Goliath to fight, then fight MGM. The huge gaming conglomerate who owns almost half of the strip properties in Las Vegas has no clue to the needs of New England. Give MGM credit – they got community support before the “NOs” had a chance to organize. But that just brings up more questions to me. Would they have a community agreement in this environment today? Are there reasons, insincerity, lies that would be seen now if there was more scrutiny?
That’s all for now.