MGM Springfield Casino Entrance
MGM Springfield Casino Entrance

Last month, an interesting article was written by Ali Izzi of the Springfield Student. The premise was that MGM Springfield would revitalize the city.  While the article was well written, and in many aspects, were good points, some of the post needs to be examined further.  Let me explain….

She begins by saying “Imagine a grand casino building with a promenade deck to its side and an overly spacious parking garage to its rear.”  First of all, while the parking garage has already been diminished by one floor in the planning, and I question where the guests AND employees will park.

A bird's eye view of the site, courtesy of wwlp.com
A bird’s eye view of the site, courtesy of wwlp.com

If MGM Springfield is going to be the success that MGM says it will be, the parking garage is already inadequate. If parking is paid around the city, MGM will introduce paid casino parking so that people won’t park for free in their garage.  Sound familiar (Las Vegas + MGM = paid parking at MGM properties, followed by Caesars, followed by Cosmopolitan, etc…..)?

She continues, “Adjacent on the street is a hotel, a movie theater, a bowling alley, an ice skating rink, and even some small shops. A trolley shuffles its way down Main Street and lively residents file out of their new apartment building.”  True.  The whole idea that MGM is trying to conceive is an “urban casino.”  Matter of fact, MGM International CEO Jim Murren admits they are in the resort business, not the casino business.  The amenities Ali mentions will help bring the residents of Springfield together. Additional city transportation is icing on the cake.

MGM Site Map

“…Land usage for all of the casino’s embellishments had to be approved by the council, by late January and February 2016, construction was under way behind the beloved Red Rose Pizzeria.” Thank goodness, Red Rose wouldn’t sell.

Red Rose Pizzeria Springfield, MA
Red Rose Pizzeria Springfield, MA

And why should they? They are a part of Springfield’s fabric as much as cheese on a pizza!  Some things must survive – the old with the new – to bring Springfield to the next level of tourism in New England.

“Another idea that has been passed through the council is a trolley that can transport people to the casino from the Amtrak and Peter Pan stations on the North End. The idea is that the more of the city that can be involved, the more tourism and businesses there will be, which would possibly lead to more jobs.”  Again, Ali is spot on. Springfield needs jobs as well as revenue.  It needs to become a destination again.

One area of concern – crime.  In a city dealing with an increase it is often considered in national crime lists.  According to according to Law Street, Springfield ranks 6th worse crime area in the country under the category of “not-so-major American cities.”  One thing is a positive, Hartford & New Haven, CT., are ranked higher.

Jim Murren and MGM Resorts
Jim Murren & MGM Resorts

As Ms. Izzi says, “Preserving and uplifting the city is a crucial part in the casino’s presence, especially since areas such as the North End are becoming more and more poverty stricken.”

MGM’s intentions, for now, are commendable.  But we have also seen in the past that MGM takes pride in itself as a business, not necessarily for its altruistic nature. Being philanthropic is not part of the MGM “Profit Growth Plan.”

But it is exciting to think of the possibilities for Springfield’s residents and culture.

Let’s hope that MGM Springfield DOES put the city on the New England map again – for all the right reasons.

Binbin

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