So, can we say that MGM Springfield is taking off?
Among turmoil in MGM International Land, especially considering the Las Vegas commitment to charge for parking at its hotel/casinos, progress can be seen in Springfield Mass.
Recently, Springfield consultants supported MGM casino design changes and the hotel tower elimination. The city’s Planning Department staff said that the city will benefit from MGM’s plans to eliminate the high-rise hotel on State Street and replace it with a six-story hotel on Main Street.
The project still plans to include a casino gaming area (126,262 square feet); a four-star hotel (251 rooms); retail space (31,250 square feet) and restaurants and food outlets (73,107 square feet); a banquet area (73,705 square feet), bowling alleys, movie theaters and an outdoor skating area.
Net reduction in square footage proposed by MGM Springfield is “primarily due to reduction of the back of house and further efficiencies resulting from design advancement,” in other words, square footage in areas not frequented by the public (referred to as back of house), and a reduction in the need for elevator space and other uses due to the hotel being reduced from 25 floor to six floors.
MGM will also incorporate the nearby MassMutual Center, Symphony Hall and other existing venues into its plan, agreeing to underwrite multiple events for up to eight years after the opening of the complex. What may seem like a cheap move to get out of building entertainment venues actually may help revitalize these venues, thus helping to build Springfield and raise it from a struggling, aging city of 154,000 people.
And while Connecticut continues to look for a site to have a third casino, built in a joint venture by the Pequots and the Mohegans in the Hartford area, Springfield could still look to lure CT interests north. Bradley International Airport seems very enticing to MMCT, the company made by both Indian tribes, because of the junkets that could bring more gamblers into CT. But those same gamblers flying into Bradley could also be flying in on junkets sponsored by MGM full of MLife (the MGM Rewards) loyal fans.
The famous Red Rose Pizzeria wouldn’t sell to MGM. But now they are looking to expand. The hope here is that MGM begins a good working relationship with businesses in the city. Red Rose is the kind of “home-grown” restaurant, similar to Pepe’s Pizza at Mohegan Sun, that brings the high scale of local flavor to the complex instead of a series of chains.
MGM’s plans also include a parking garage for 3,375 parking spaces along Union Street in the area of the former Zanetti School, but the design of that garage is still under discussion.