An $800 million plan straddling a downtown and South End neighborhoods is what Springfield, MA is betting it’s future on. Springfield’s partner in all this – MGM Resorts International.
Who is MGM Resorts International? Well, it is extremely successful in the gaming and hospitality industry. It owns and operates 15 properties in Nevada, Mississippi and Michegan and has 50% investments in four other properties in Nevada, Illinois & Macau, China. MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) is one of the world’s leading global hospitality companies, operating a portfolio of destination resort brands, including Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Mirage, and the CityCenter in Las Vegas. Their most recent success, the financial foundation for future success is now founded in it’s efforts in China, where Forbes reports MGM Resorts first quarter in Macau this year posted its best quarterly performance since 2008.
But will it be as successful in Springfield, Massachusetts?
Jeffrey Ciuffreda, boss of a Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, says a MGM plan will be a bonus to a informal economy, especially construction and casino employes. However, Downtown businesses still don’t agree.
Again, I refer to Mark Arsenault of the Boston Globe to shed some light on the future. “…what the city is trying to do with MGM, analysts say, has never been done before: using a gambling-based business to bring back an economically distressed urban downtown.”
In his article, Mr. Arsenault refers to most urban casinos still built outside the city limits, making it difficult for local businesses to enjoy part of the renewal. The three casinos in Detroit, for instance, make an impressive $1.3 billion a year in gambling revenue, but have not revitalized the areas around them. “People who go there don’t want to stay downtown,” Alan Silver, an Ohio University casino specialist said. They go to a casino, they gamble, and they leave. I don’t think it’s been an adrenaline shot to that area.”
But, in Springfield, it’s right in the middle of everything, as you can see above. “We think it’s the first of its kind — a truly inside-out integrated casino resort in a downtown environment……Taking a page from the design of modern retail malls, such as Providence Place in downtown Providence, MGM plans to build amenities, such as restaurants and shops, on the outside of the resort, facing the streets, to encourage foot traffic downtown.” said Michael Mathis, president of MGM Springfield, in a Globe interview.
Mike Arnenault continues to say the area right now “…is shuttered and weather-sealed with tarps. MGM will knock it down. The city’s castle-like armory building, also damaged by the twister, will be renovated and preserved as an architectural centerpiece of the project. A brick church building will be moved. The company will build a hotel, cinema, skating rink, bowling alley, spa, parking garage, and 54 market-rate downtown apartments — in addition to installing thousands of slot machines and Las Vegas-style table games.
Chuck Irving, a manager of Davenport Cos., a development partner with MGM Resorts said ““With 8 million new people coming here, what does this look like?” (referring to MGM’s forecast of annual visits to its proposed resort) It’s all waiting to happen..”
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission this week revised it’s time table for license approval, but still seems intent on approving MGM’s Springfield license on June 13th. Opposition for gaming in the Commonwealth, however, is still building.
Like our weather these days, no matter whatever is going on now, it’s sure to change to something – better or worse, no one knows. And so it goes with the Massachusetts Casino expansion.
That’s all for now.