MGM Changes To Casino Project Makes Springfield Underwhelming

imagesWhen I read MGM Resorts was about to change the plan for their project in Springfield, I thought it would be to compete at a higher level, to make it a resort like Wynn, like Foxwoods and like Mohegan Sun.

Instead, they have decided to take away the hotel tower – the one thing that would scream at I-90 “Here we are, you gotta see this!”

MGM Springfield

First rendering with the now defunct 25 story hotel.

The 25-story glass-facade hotel is being moved to the corner of Main and Howard streets, with the glass-facade hotel design has been abandoned altogether.  The hotel will continue to have 250 rooms despite the change in design from 25 floors to six floors.  According to MassLive writer Peter Goonan, “The lobby would be located on the first floor, adjacent to retail, and guest rooms would be located on floors two through six.”

Now remember, there will still be 250 rooms.  Any idea what kind of modern math MGM is using for this?  Maybe less high-end suites?  Smaller room sizes?

MGM Springfield

New rendering of project, with hotel fore front.

By the way, the parking garage has been downsized to one floor – in the middle of a city! On a busy weekend, where will the parking be?  Will you have to pay?  You can’t put a “Ticket-In,Ticket-Out” voucher from a slot into a parking meter to pay for parking every two hours.

According to Michael Mathis, president and chief executive officer of MGM Springfield,  “We think the changes along Main Street and this new layout is more in line with a true downtown mixed-use development that will make MGM Springfield the premier urban resort in the industry.”

This brings more questions than answers.  Less enticing hotel options will bring buses, day-trippers, and rely on the locals to bring in business.  Ask Atlantic City how that’s working out for them.  And ask the businesses surrounding Foxwoods & Mohegan Sun if their business grew with the casinos expansion.  Simply put, casinos are designed to get you in and keep you in – period.

Some of the latest research points to the fact that urban casinos tend to cannibalize the very local economy that that it is trying to improve, due to the fact that the first “regulars” expected to support the finances of the casino are local. Without an established chain of casinos in Springfield, and no East Coast presence to speak of, MGM will be starting with local dollars – attracting a primarily local or regional audience.  The money that gets gambled away in the casino would otherwise be spent on other entertainment options in the city.

Kiss this beautiful tower good-bye!

Kiss this beautiful tower good-bye!

And now they are taking away the memorable lighthouse, the beacon, the form of the resort – the hotel tower.

Let’s face it, gamblers want good odds, easy access, lots of available parking, good amenities and all within the confines of the casino resort.  We’re lazy, we don’t want to walk a lot, we don’t want to leave the casino to eat and take in the culture of the city.  And those that do aren’t spending the amount of money the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Mass legislators are looking for. These changes might sound good and appease the gambling naysayers & and the historic building communities, but it won’t increase the bottom line – cash for the casino, and cash for the State of Massachusetts.

That’s all for now.