First and foremost is congratulations to MGM for bringing a resort destination to Springfield and dire help for a city struggling. The first weekend estimated 150,000 people passed through the property doors. The opening day festivities were a tribute to a long awaited addition to Springfield and New England. And now, our MGM Springfield Trip Report – Day 1
Sunday, August 26th – third day open.
Bert & I (Bin) were able to take advantage of an offer to stay and check it out. We were happy to see it inside & out. We decided to use Valet which is just a little further down from the self parking area. Self Parking is free. You must pay for valet parking – and I don’t mean a couple bucks to the attendants. Unlike Las Vegas MGM properties, there is no swiping of the MLife card for free valet parking. However, as Platinum members, we received free valet parking. If it IS like Las Vegas, Gold and up MLife cards will provide free valet parking – but remember to still tip! More later on the cost of valet parking. With car taken away, the adventure was about to begin this Sunday afternoon at check-in.
Cluster Upon Cluster
Getting around isn’t easy during high occupancy times. There isn’t enough space around perimeter to get around. To make matters worse, the Movie Theater on the 2nd floor has escalators that empty onto the the casino floor in the same vicinity as TAP and the Self Parking elevators. Let’s hope it works.
As you walk into the hotel lobby, you stop and look around for a minute. This is not your typical hotel lobby. With numerous quaint sitting areas, all showing tribute to Springfield’s history, it looks more like a series of relaxing parlors. The lobby includes, well what should we call it…….oh, Lobby Bar! “The place to be for after-work socializing, a drink before dinner or to kick-start your staycation……….enjoy a signature seasonal cocktail specials or let the mixologist create a personal drink just for you.”
The lobby is located at the hotel entrance across from Red Rose Pizza, so it’s an easy stop with friends. Check-in was easy – while there was a line, it moved quickly with excellent service. Questions were answered about valet parking, (ask at the desk to be sure you qualify for free valet and they will take care of it for you) and we were off to our room.
As we walked to the elevators (or as you walk anywhere on this property) we found more interesting touches in the decor. Walls across from elevators look and actually feel like 10 foot high book bindings. The elevators have glass doors, so you see the inside of the elevator casing as it climbs from floor to floor.
Hotel & Room
Getting out onto the 2nd floor, we passed metal tubing with glass lenses representing Dr. Seuss glasses, Springfield’s own children’s book author and illustrator. It is one of the many “whimsical” design elements which pays tribute to locals such as Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel and Emily Dickinson, among others.
Our hotel room was modeled in industrial “chic” – beds have a hide-a-bed look, wood floors, dark colors, brass light fixtures, with a wall of pictures of Springfield history giving it a cozy, den type of feel. The rooms are smaller than most, but is made to feel larger with no bureau (2 draws in closet, one between beds,) and with a TV & multiple USB & AC connections flush to the wall. The TV can also be accessed through Bluetooth. There is no coffee maker (probably influenced by an in-house Starbucks). The bathroom is functional, sink space good for one comfortably, and I still think the shower, while large, clean and powerful, looks like a jail cell with it’s doorway design and white brick inside.
TAP Sports Bar
The TAP Sports Bar is going to be one of the shining stars of this property. With numerous large TV’s, brick walls everywhere, tin roof sections, and a large center bar, it offers a great mix of 21st century sports bar with 20th century decor. Dining and beer menus are limited, but the list includes good food and great beer. Our meals included the the Hall of Fame Burger and the Rueben, both outstanding. The Rueben had at least 6-8 oz of lean pastrami.
For brews, NETG recommends the Iron Duke Baby Maker Irish Porter and the Back East Porter drafts. Go big and upgrade to a 24-Oz. draft for an additional $3, or bigger to a 1 Liter Mug for an additional $6. A sampler of any 5 Draft Beers is $14.
In back of Tap is the Arcade, but it seems for only 21+. Bowling is the main focus with 10 lanes of Ten-Pin Bowling (not the New England style candle-pin originally announced) It includes a few “millennial” games – shuffle board, corn-hole, etc., and a few video games. It also has a small bar.
A very nice area around the pool is great to get away from the clatter of people and slot machines. Quiet, with places to sit and socialize along with the usual pool amenities.
Before we called it an early night, we looked around the casino, checking out the slot inventory, the video poker, and the table games, just to get a fresh first look.
We first noticed the MLife lines for new cards were long and very slow. Thank goodness for level pass lines!
Inventory of slots is good – lots of newer games. Enjoying your slot play may not necessarily depend upon the variety of slots, as much as space between the machines and seats. Slots are very close together.
Except for the two wide aisles, there is maybe 3ft between seats. Anyone using a scooter or walker could have a difficult time negotiating through the aisles. Be prepared to get bumped by many while playing. If one person stands behind a player, there is barely enough space for one person to get through. Numerous slots were turned off, or waiting for service, but that would be typical for so many new machines – 2500 with video poker included. No doubt, your newest fave slot is on this casino floor.
OTHER CASINO OBSERVATIONS
Opinions concerning decisions being made by MGM’s gaming approach will be saved for another time. But, here are random observations about rules, dealers, and casino management:
- All blackjack tables use continuous shuffle. BJ lowest minimums – $15, most are $25, 3/2 dealer stands on 17, with a Super 4 progressive. An additional side bet offered, not seen in many places, is the InBETween side bet (the primary goal is the dealer’s up card to fall between the player’s initial two cards) with an over 5% house edge.
- Pai Gow – dealers very green, with players advising dealers about correct play, no player banking allowed, fortune bonus is $5 increments only. Even though $1 bet is not allowed, envy button is still used (?) Minimum starts at $25
- 3 Card Poker – One player mentioned players can only pick up cards with one hand. Makes it kinda difficult.
- Other Table Game Gambling Minimums – 4 Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Holdem Progressive, Casino War, Criss Cross Poker & Chase the flush all $15; Monday afternoon were starting at $10
- High Limit Lounge – not big, maybe 10 tables mostly of Bac, BJ.
Video Poker is not a priority of MGM. There isn’t even a lot of VP present -19 Multigame single line bartops, two banks of Triple Play, a few Ultimate-X – totaling 34. At quarter level – Ultimate X ($.25 and up) no nickel machines. Pay tables are not good VP2Free website says “nothing playable.” . High Limit – Still disappointing, even at higher denominations. $5 includes 9/5 JOB, 8/6 DDB,BP is 7/5, and not many games, all bartops.
- You will not find any Video Keno, since the state of Massachusetts thought it would negatively impact the state lottery – one of the highest revenue producers in the state.
- 5 Craps tables – minimum $15. Very close to each other.
- Baccarat – all have Royal 9 Progressive.
- There is no VIP Lounge available for Platinum or Noir players.
- Apologies for no poker room coverage at this time.
I know this is a little weird to comment on bathrooms, but there was something I’ve never seen before. At the sinks (in the men’s room – this reporter does not know first hand about the women’s restrooms) there are three spouts – soap, water and warm air blower to dry your hands. (Ok, I thought it was cool….whatever…..)
We ate breakfast in MGM Springfield because we were staying there. However, the breakfasts were disappointing. There are three limited breakfast options. South End Market has 2 – Hearth Grill & Bill’s Diner, Starbucks near lobby makes three. Both South End places served breakfast basics – no omelets, pastry or fruit offered. Just eggs, egg sandwich, bacon, sausage, pancakes, and home fries. In a pinch, this would be just fine. Breakfast at Hearth Grill – $9, your choice of scrambled eggs, turkey sausage links, sausage links, bacon, & home fries. But remember, this is supposed to be a 24/7 Destination Resort with hotel guests. more is expected.
Our meal at Cal Mare, however, was fantastic. Our meatballs appetizer with garlic bread were cold when received, but quickly taken care of for us. Our waiter Brandan was exceptional with his attention, knowledge and humor. Their drinks menu had some different and enticing cocktails, but I quickly saw and ordered one of my favorite beers, from New England -Berkshire Brewing’s Coffeehouse Porter.
For our entree we ordered the Eggplant Parmesan which was amazing, with a perfect ratio of cheese and crispy, tasty eggplant – the best eggplant parm I’ve ever had. We split it to have room for dessert.
So we tried the chocolate budino, (a thick salty, caramel chocolate pudding with hazelnut crunch), and the chocolate sorbet, with shaved dark chocolate slices. Both were heavenly. Cal Mare is definitely fine dining and could be accompanied by a movie or even an event at MassMutual. This place is reason alone to dine at MGM Springfield.
We are early to bed, early to rise people. I’ve always said that morning is the best time in the casino. So, our last night was an early to bed night. After falling asleep, we received a call from the front desk, asking if they should check our thermostat. Apparently, some other room called for service, but we were called by mistake. These things are to be expected early on after opening. But MGM showed why they are head and shoulders above most in service and hospitality. Apologies were given, front desk next morning apologized, and I received a personal email referring to the situation again. Nice touch, greatly appreciated.
Did I mention Valet Parking is paid for if your Sapphire or Pearl? Two days would have cost $56! Thank you MGM for the Tier-Matching Party!
We felt that MGM Springfield missed the mark in a few areas, but overall, offers quite a bit. The building itself is amazing. The outside Plaza area is beautiful and relaxing. During winter, they will offer ice skating. TopGolf is a fun and unique experience. More dining is expected, as actor-restaurateur and Dorchester native Mark Wahlberg will be adding a Wahlburgers. A non-smoking casino is a draw to many these days, and rightly so. The casino also has two self-service drinks stations with coffee, juice, soda, etc., NETG previously reported that drinks needed to be paid for, but when gambling, drinks are free. Remember to tip the staff! Thanks to Christopher DiMauro for setting us straight in his Facebook community Art In the Game, MGM Springfield Gaming Arts & Entertainment Group. Anyone interested in MGM Springfield should check this community out.
Let’s not forget what this will mean for the City of Springfield. NETimeGambling hopes this helps raise Springfield as one of the great New England cities it once was. The future looks bright – and you can bet on that!