Jim Murren, MGM Resorts
Jim Murren & MGM – Can they be believed?

It has not been a good year to be a shareholder in a major casino company. Yet MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren is smiling at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this week: “We’re doing better”

And despite all the drama MGM has caused in Springfield, Massachusetts, in Connecticut, and for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the head of MGM Resorts International insists the company remains committed to building a casino in downtown Springfield despite a recent redesign that eliminated a 25-story hotel and associated apartments.

MGM Springfield
New rendering of MGM Springfield

The project will still include a 250-room, six-story hotel and 30 to 35 market-rate apartments that will be built in a former school department building that’s been vacant since 2010, MGM President William Hornbuckle said after meeting with Mayor Dominic Sarno. Hornbuckle said that he was disappointed the hotel tower, but obviously the talking heads of MGM would spin it that way. He promised that the casino would still open in September 2018 and provide 3,000 jobs, which I do believe will happen. Will it be the blueprint that was originally expected?…that remains to be seen.

East Hartford Casino
Mr. Murren, this is one of the other two possible CT third casino sites. Did you forget to mention there were three? No mall here!

He also dismissed possible competition from a casino proposed for northern Connecticut, not far from Springfield.  But still contends that they ought to be able to build in CT.  “Does Connecticut come into play?” he said. “The answer is unequivocally no.”  Every time MGM dismisses CT’s “box of slots” approach to battle MGM Springfield with their imposed air of passive, over-confident arrogance, (acting as if MGM has nothing to worry about) they turn around looking for more litigation against the Nutmeg State. At G2E in Las Vegas this past week, Jim Murren mocked the proposed satellite operation — “It’s a shopping center, that’s sexy” — while still insisting it could threaten his company’s massive investment.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady reacts to beating the Cowboys. Where’s Greg Hardy

Must be nice to think he knows everything, and to pass that opinion on to the Las Vegas big wigs at G2E.  It makes no sense that something that will not “come into play” takes so much of their time outside the actual casino project.  He sounded like Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys before getting embarrassed by the Patriots 30-7 – far from the truth but full of arrogant bravado.

Shouldn’t Springfield legislators and the Mass Gaming Commission be concerned with the project being built by a company that:
  • changes plans without consent of the MGC or City of Springfield
  • continues to struggle with their casino project in Macau, China
  • saw a decrease in it’s Las Vegas revenue
  • is building a 20,000 seat arena in Las Vegas, but refuses to build parking, even though the cities residents have asked for parking

MGM SpringfieldThe Springfield City Council, meanwhile, has called for a nonbinding citywide referendum in November on the proposed design changes. Some councilors are questioning whether the project will still deliver on promises of 2,000 construction jobs and other economic benefits. But remember, MGM announced the design changes two weeks ago, citing in large part rising construction costs. Some members of the state’s Gaming Commission expressed concerns.

The new design will be subject to a vote in the city council and approval by Mayor Domenic Sarno, who has voiced preliminary approval of the changes as the city conducts a full review. The changes include the change in hotel layout, eliminating the original hotel tower, the elimination of 250 to 300 parking spaces by removing one floor from the planned parking garage and the relocation of planned market-rate housing off-site.

The real question is, “Can the MGM really be believed & trusted to follow ALL that the MGC and the Springfield intended?
Time will tell.