MGM Springfield Is Not A Resort – 2021 Update

“MGM Springfield Is Not A Resort” is an updated post from before the pandemic. What constitutes a resort? This is a topic that crops up often. So let’s look at some criteria for being a “resort” and why MGM Springfield doesn’t fit that mold.

MGM Springfield Is Not A Resort
Opening Day, 2018

Here are a few definitions of a resort:

  1. A hotel with various recreations – food, drink, lodging, sports, entertainment, relaxation, spa, and shopping.
  2. A full-service lodging facility that provides access to or offers a range of amenities and recreation facilities to emphasize a leisure experience. Resorts serve as the primary provider of the guests’ experience.
  3. Any hotel that charges for parking and adds a “resort fee”

While we can dismiss #3, being called a resort and existing as a resort are two separate things.

Even though many of these criteria may apply to MGM Springfield, it’s not a resort. It doesn’t belong in the resort category of MGM International’s other properties like Bellagio, National Harbor, Beau Rivage, Aria, and Mandalay Bay.

Bellagio and its iconic fountains.

Early ChangesWorry from the Start

The original plans impressed the Massachusetts Gaming Commission back in 2015. The inclusion of a hotel tower (which was changed to 5 floors) and a more oversized parking garage (diminished by two floors) would be great additions to the “City of Firsts” skyline. The hotel tower was a 25-story glass facade rising above the city like a beacon for a city rising from the ashes.

MGM Springfield Is Not A Resort
The first rendering of the first MGM Springfield Hotel Tower

That plan was changed to a less impressive 5-story hotel “on its side.”

MGM International and then CEO Jim Murren were confident that New England would immediately make MGM Springfield the #1 casino resort. However, the fact is that MGM International completely misunderstood the location and the clientele. Then MGM Springfield President Mathis admitted,I think we may have underestimated that level of loyalty and what it would take for those customers to give us a shot.”

Related Post – MGM Springfield Four Years Later

New England is a Very Different Kind of Place

Springfield is nothing like Las Vegas. There is no glitz and glamor in Springfield. No musical fountains exist, and the streets are not lined with neon. Springfield is a friendly little blue-collar New England city having to endure some rough decades. It needed MGM’s help. The arrogance of “we’re MGM – if we build it, they will come” does not work here, as Encore Boston Harbor also found out. The clientele isn’t used to having a casino in their city. It’s about time MGM International embraces what it is – a friendly “locals casino.”

IMHO – MGM Springfield Is Not A Resort

As Jerry Seinfeld puts it, “not that’s there’s anything wrong with that.” 

MGM International has to rethink the vision of its Springfield casino. The future looks brighter after the pandemic, with revenue and visitation on the rise. It’s popular in the surrounding area and southern New England. And its connection with MGM’s MLife makes it easier than driving to Borgata in Atlantic City or flying to Las Vegas.

Resorts require a variety of solid amenities. MGM Springfield does include a smattering of available activities. But, in this case, it’s like trying to make a party bus out of a medium-stretch limo. There are lights, music, refreshments, and a party pole, but the space inside is limited, and all the amenities are just enough to say they’re offered.

The Need To “Know Thyself” Is a Start

Let’s go back to the definition of a resort. The definition of a resort is a hotel with various recreations – food, drink, lodging, sports, entertainment, and relaxation such as spas and shopping. And it serves as the primary provider of the guests’ experience.

The hotel inside is nicely done, and the rooms are a step above other hotels’ rooms in Springfield. The spa is small but an excellent addition to a resort. But that’s where the resemblance to a resort begins to wane.

Dining includes excellent options – The Chandler Steakhouse for high-end dining and the TAP for a fantastic sports pub. However, it’s difficult to find breakfast. The other restaurants and casual dining hours are limited, and the surrounding restaurants (not counting Red Rose Pizza next door) warrant walking a block or two.

The pool area is open for less than half the year.

The hotel pool is outside. That’s right, in New England, the hotel pool is outside. It’s not a resort amenity if you can only use it one-third of the year. Families have an arcade with bowling, a movie theater, and TopGolf, but without a large pool open all year, it is still lacking for families.

Entertainment is an exciting part of this discussion. For headliner entertainment, MGM Springfield uses the nearby MassMutual Center. The pandemic certainly took a huge bite out of every casino’s entertainment options, so we’ll pass on this judgment until 2022. But retail offerings before the pandemic were slim to none.

Gambling Needs a Local Focus

The clientele needs to be diverse to be considered a resort. Guests should include buses and cars for transportation and be willing to fly and stay there for a few days.

High rollers have limited numbers of suites and a High Limit table games area as large as the small Oxford Casino and Hotel in Maine. And it’s been well-documented that MGM Springfield has had trouble getting Asian gamblers in the doors. The fact that baccarat is the only Asian table game offered and that Pai Gow Poker was taken out for good mirrors the problem.

A mini VIP lounge was added for higher-level players just before Covid arrived. It hasn’t re-opened yet, but it was another compromise with little space available. Unfortunately, Starbucks was closed to make space – one of the few breakfast options available.

The tables were removed from the High Limit area and replaced with slot machines. Slots were also added to the Commonwealth Lounge. Hopefully, these spaces will return to what they were after the pandemic.

Locals Casinos Focus on Local Events

MGM Springfield Is Not A Resort
Winter Ice Skating is offered at MGM Springfield for the community.

It comes down to wanting to offer everything a resort would offer when the space available makes it impossible. So, how about embracing the persona of a classy local casino/hotel? Entertainment and events for the community must continue. The Plaza at MGM Springfield transforms into a 45 by-76-foot ice skating rink between the casino hotel and the Kringle Emporium. Kringle Emporium is in the building that was formerly an old church. MGM moved it from its original location to make way for the casino.

Past use of the Plaza includes:

  • Summer Outdoor Free Music Series – Music on the Plaza in partnership with the Big E
  • The plaza will host a food trucks festival.
  • yoga-and-beer nights
  • a pop-up art gallery
  • a marketplace
  • a weekly farmers’ market
  • a resident Halloween party

True Identity

Stations Casinos, aka Red Rock, have lived in Las Vegas, away from the Strip and downtown. It’s now a Vegas giant in the valley, still considering its properties in local gambling halls. However, some of their recent casinos ARE resorts. Station’s best property, Red Rock Casino Resort, is one of my favorite destinations. It is a giant casino resort that also caters to the locals in Summerlin, which is 20 minutes away from the Strip.

Related Post – Gambling in Massachusetts – The Bay State

MGM Springfield is rising to the top compared to the many local casinos around the country. It’s a perfect day trip or stays over for residents in the six states bordering Massachusetts. It’s basically in a category of its own. MGM Springfield is not a mega-casino resort and not a little local casino. It’s simply a classy local hotel/casino – MGM Springfield – As Jerry Seinfeld puts it, “not that’s there’s anything wrong with that.” 

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