NETG took a ride to Springfield, Mass to see how MGM Springfield’s Urban Casino/Resort was shaping up. While it looks like it has a long way to go to open in 2018, I would bet MGM International knows how to turn buildings into marvel quickly and efficiently.
So here is a slide show with renderings first, followed by the construction of the same area or structure. Keep in mind, without permission, and leaving our hard hats at home, this was the closest to the rendering spots as we could get.
I’m including the following MGM Springfield Plan (above) so you can get a perspective of the project.
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)
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.
Eight casinos inside this radius by 2020.
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
Mass Mutual Civic Center, Springfield, MA
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.
MLife Rewards Club of MGM
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!”
How successful will MGM Springfield be? It’s supposed to be different from all the other MGM properties, and almost all of the American brick-and-mortar casinos open at this moment.
Main St. in Springfield, Mass., 1910.
There is a lot of excitement in Springfield these days. There is a lot of hope as well. Much of it depends on what MGM Springfield will bring to a city looking for a break, looking for a chance to crawl out of financial and cultural hole it has been stuck in for decades. Overall decline of industry throughout the northeastern U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s seemed to be the catalyst for the city’s decline, and Springfield developed a national reputation for crime, political corruption and cronyism, which stands in stark contrast to the reputation it enjoyed throughout much of U.S. history.
Now, the third-largest city in Massachusetts is getting help from MGM International, helping it rise from the ashes with financial backing, jobs for it’s area residents and promise for tourism, the arts, and it’s city’s reputation.
G. Michael Dobbs, of the Reminder News, reported on an article by analyst Howard Jay Klein. Mr. Dobbs said he wanted “….to see what other people think about the MGM Springfield project.” Mr. Klein had some keen insights.
As Dobbs mentioned in his article, “Klein was looking at the management tactics on the company and compared the MGM approach to plate spinning. ….. you might remember those acts on “The Ed Sullivan Show” where a guy would first balance plates on tall rods and then set them spinning. His skill was keeping the plates spinning and not falling.” Klein questioned whether or not MGM management has too many plates spinning.
The plates, of course, are the many casino/resorts MGM has across the country, with one of those plates representing MGM Springfield.
Consider the following, some pros, some cons – some both:
MGM Springfield is a downtown site – a new gamble MGM calls an “urban casino.”
It’s due to open in mid 2018 – slightly ahead of its original due date.
Its competition will include – Plainridge Park Casino & Raceway, run by Penn National Gaming that’s already open as Massachusetts’s first casino
a mega property from Wynn to be opened in 2019 at Everett near Boston
Steve Wynn with his rendition of Wynn Boston Harbor
The two Connecticut tribal properties as well as the consideration of one or even two added casinos in Connecticut. To be fair, the reality of additional casinos in CT is looking bleak at this date.
The new casino in New York State, Rivers Casino, in Schenectady is located just over 100 miles from downtown Springfield and has already drawn thousands of visitors from upstate New York, as well as Western Massachusetts. Rivers Vice President of Marketing Danny Brockdorf said, “Our customers are more likely be out here, make a day trip — we do have the resort to really cater to folks who are already coming into town…..I don’t see much of an impact from MGM Springfield.”
Rivers Casino, Schenectady, NY
According to Klein, “This one’s [MGM Springfield] is facing very rocky soil in our consensus view and at best be a marginal contributor…..”
NETimeGambling doesn’t agree with Mr. Klein’s assessment. We think MGM Springfield will be a viable competitor for these reasons:
Connecticut has lost the many battles that MGM has thrown at its third casino project.
The city of Springfield is “drooling” over the possible future and will do anything to make their better future come true.
MGM Springfield will bringing sports and cultural events to bring tourists to Springfield’s historical city district. MGM Springfield is planning a strategic partnership between the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and MGM Resorts International in order to help bring world-class entertainment to the MassMutual Center. Additional entertainment amenities that will complement the resort, including retail space, food/beverage venues, a state of the art movie theater with six screens, a luxury bowling facility and an outdoor plaza that will feature large dynamic video displays and outdoor areas for events including expeditions, art shows and similar functions.
MGM has pledged to create about 3,000 permanent jobs to benefit the local community job market.
Mass Mutual Civic Center, Springfield, MA
MGM has loyal fans across the country. The closest are MGM National Harbor in Washington D.C. and Borgata in Atlantic City, both highly successful.
MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis has expressed optimism about his casino’s prospects in spite all the eminent competition saying, “Of course we’re aware of all competition — the Schenectady facility has been on our radar ever since the license was issued. … Generally we feel regardless of the type of competition in the market that MGM facilities have the ability to grow the market in our unique destinations, and that’s proven out with our early success in National Harbor right outside of D.C.”
MGM National Harbor
The eventual success or disappointment in MGM Springfield’s expectations will have plenty of time to be evaluated. But, right now, my crystal ball is very cloudy from Connecticut’s mess and legislative delay. MGM International should be able to open by 2018 with little, if any competition at all.
MGM has won many battles – the clincher may be winning the war.