Two years ago, I wrote a similar post to today’s about MGM Springfield. To compare posts, here it is:
I some ways, the project has changed. All the while, CT & MGM has seemingly been at war over potential revenue & jobs. So, today, I revisit my opinions and analysis of the MGM Springfield Urban Casino project.
I want MGM Springfield to succeed……….There, I said it.
Mostly, I want it to bring revenue for an economically needy city, while enhancing the New England Casino landscape, not digging it up. I want it to be beautiful and to enhance the rundown parts of Springfield.
Benefit For a Needy City
Springfield is considered #5 in a list of “Most Dangerous Towns to Live In” by OnlyInYourState.com . Springfield is the third largest city in Massachusetts – Population: 154,518. Annual crimes per 1,000 residents: 10.39 violent crimes, 45.46 property crimes and 55.85 total reported crimes. “If both property and violent crimes were considered, Springfield would rank #3.”
But I do feel the people of Springfield will benefit with a strong Host Community Agreement. It calls for “MGM Resorts to make upfront and advance payments, totaling $15 million to the City of Springfield. The upfront payment will be distributed to the city in installments during the construction phase of the project. When MGM Springfield opens for business, the city will receive in excess of $25 million annually in payments. These monies will be used to enhance public safety, support early childhood education and for general public purposes.” (from the FAQ at MGMSpringfield.com)
Springfield needs the help. Statistics show that Springfield is in the Top 5 of all Massachusetts towns with: highest divorce rate, highest % of families below the poverty level, highest violent-crime rate, and lowest median family income. (according to WalletHub in “2017’s Best Places to Live in Massachusetts for Families”)
A Great Casino to Visit
I want it to be another casino jewel in New England in southern New England’s Casino Ring as a gambling/tourist destination. MGM, Wynn, Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Twin River – all large casinos with hotel amenities providing for vacations & stay-cations alike all in a radius of 120 miles.
The original plan video can be seen here. The original plans were impressive, but the hotel tower plans have changed, and the parking garage will be lower by two floors. MGM is also moving the apartments in the opening of the video further away from the casino. Inside, MGM Springfield looks similar to Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas (Sumerlain), with restaurants outlying the casino, and the essential “Center Bar” made so famous in casino design by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas long ago. It has modern looks like MGM’s latest “Aria,” but much brighter.
Will MGM have the same poor to mediocre Video Poker paytables and average gaming rules that are in all their other properties? The exception is Borgata when they purchased Boyd Gaming’s joint share. They now own one of the best casinos in Atlantic City, as well as the entire country. Keeping the good gambling options at Borgata and similar options at MGM Springfield will be crucial to compete with CT, RI & Wynn Boston Harbor for New England’s gambling revenue.
MGM Operation of MassMutual Center
MGM Springfield and Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, announced a joint bid for the five-year contract to operate the MassMutual Center, a multipurpose arena and convention center, in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. Under this joint bid, MGM Springfield would serve as the venue management company and Spectra would provide food and beverage services through its Food Services & Hospitality division. Michael Mathis, President and Chief Operating Officer for MGM Springfield said, “….the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) has a prime opportunity to select the best of the best to operate this great facility.”
No Smoking, No Free Booze
In the casino area, will MGM & Wynn be powerful enough to influence a repeal to the “NO Happy Hour” Law in Massachusetts? Imagine no alcohol freebies on a casino floor owned by MGM & Wynn – blasphemy! And remember, ALL Massachusetts casinos are to be non-smoking. The options provided for smokers at Plainridge Park in Plainville seem almost punitive. Massachusetts Casino Law has the entire casino as non-smoking.
A key factor in MGM Springfield’s success will be the connection through its rewards club, MLife, providing perks to MGM’s properties from Las Vegas to the east coast. Earning points in Springfield that can be used in Las Vegas & Biloxi (MGM owns Beau Rivage Resort Casino there) is exciting! Let’s face it, MGM does own some incredible properties. Imagine earning connections to stay at Bellagio in Las Vegas, as well as attracting Las Vegans to our little corner of the country. This attraction can only help MGM to help the city of Springfield and the state of Massachusetts with jobs and revenue.
THE BATTLE CONTINUES
I decided to leave the discussion of MGM’s ongoing battle with Connecticut and their 3rd casino on the CT/MA border for another day. This is about Springfield’s residents and the ability that MGM has in its hands to help the city rise from its ashes.
Now is the time for action to help save the city of Springfield, to focus on the positives that MGM Springfield brings.
As Jean-Luc Picard said in Star Trek Next Generations, I say to MGM concerning the welfare of Springfield, “Make it so!”