MGM Springfield Shows Progress & Promise

MGM Springfield area

MGM has opened its first building in Springfield for its $1 billion casino & resort. About 50 employees moved into the casino’s new administrative office this week. The building will eventually house some 300 corporate and human resource workers, as well as a training school for prospective casino workers.

This prompted us at NETG to check the progress in Springfield. How has the process been going?

MGM International and Jim Murren, CEO, could not be happier. Even MGM’s stall tactics with the MMCT Mohegan/Pequot Casino and the creative distraction of a Bridgeport, CT casino can’t take away from the process success in Springfield.  MGM builds resorts, and does it well.

The “Casino Lab”

MGM Casino Lab

Steve Urbon, from SouthCoastToday, reported in August on the place that includes “a wildly colorful carpet and low, indirect lighting with spotlights on the four felt-topped blackjack tables, two poker tables, custom chips, craps table, and roulette wheel…..hands-on training for table games, for both players and the casino dealers. It is designed to be completely realistic” The room is part of Bristol Community College’s CATCH Institute and is the first and only school in the state to win the Gaming Commission’s Gaming School Certificate and is located at the Taunton campus inside the Silver City Galleria Mall.

Recently, it was reported that MGM Springfield and the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute will provide details on how to register and enroll in classes to train for such games as blackjack, poker, roulette and mini-baccarat. MGM expects to hire 450 table-game dealers, with hiring expected to begin this summer. See Kenneth R. Gosselin‘s report MGM Springfield: Wanted Table-Game Dealers for more details and if you’re interested in becoming a dealer.

PlayMyWay

Programs such as PlayMyWay focus on problem gambling prevention and customer protection practices. Its intention is to help players make decisions about gambling, allow them to monitor and understand their playing behavior in real time, and support their decisions. At this time, the PlayMyWay program is only at Massachusetts’s only open casino, Plainridge Park Casino and seems to be working well. Even though the program is not mandatory by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the other two casinos, MGM Springfield and Wynn Boston Harbor (opening in fall of 2019), Michael Mathis, president and COO of MGM Springfield, and Robert DeSalvio, president of Wynn Boston Harbor, the commission voted 5-0 to allow both casinos to implement PlayMyWay as a voluntary program. Mathis was quoted as saying “MGM believes that a voluntary operator driven approach to play management will achieve the commission’s and operators’ shared goals of a best in class responsible gaming framework,”

Diversity for Springfield

MGM is committed to create a diverse workforce at it’s Massachusetts casino. According to Peter Goonan at MassLive “Mathis said he is proud to say that out of 16 department heads hired, more than half are minorities and/or women. MGM Springfield has set goals for diversity hiring in its formal agreements with the Gaming Commission and the city of Springfield.” In addition, “the hiring of minorities for the casino project was listed as 22.2 percent as of Sept. 30, 2017, as compared with the project goal of 15.3 percent, according to MGM Springfield. The hiring of women was 9.25 percent as compared with the project goal of 6.9 percent, and the hiring of veterans was listed at 10.16 percent as compared with the goal of 8 percent.”

Casino On Schedule

MGM Springfield Interior Lobby, courtesy Jim Kinney | jkinney@repub.com

Also covered by Mr. Goonan in a December post how impressed the MGC and Chairman Steve Crosby was with MGM’s plans. Commission members agreed that photographs of the work site, comparing last year to this year, showed dramatic change. They were also impressed with a report about the hotel that is under construction on site, including an interior view of what the hotel rooms will look like, with Crosby saying the view was “really cool.” MGM is taking a new path in its hotel design, giving a touch of Springfield & New England in its decor and design. For a gallery of photos from MassLive courtesy of Jim Kinney from the Springfield Republic, CLICK HERE.

MGM joins Cambridge College

Cambridge College and MGM are launching the Commonwealth’s first ever Hospitality pre-apprentice program in greater Springfield. Hospitality careers include event planners, travel agents, hotel staff and food service. MGM Springfield and other local organizations will help prepare the workforce for these high demand positions. The program consists of four weeks of classes to help students prepare for entry-level jobs in the field. This is must needed help for a city struggling with unemployment.  While having a modest decrease in unemployment rate, it is still close to double that of the Massachusetts average.  Covered by WesternMassNews “[MGM Springfield] is going to have approximately 2,200 of the 3,000 jobs as full-time positions.”

Anticipation is Building

I too am getting caught up in the excitement of the addition of another casino/resort in New England. This one looks to be like no other in New England and the country.

For a great encapsulation of MGM Springfield, please visit Steve Ruddock’s recent post:

MGM SPRINGFIELD TAKING A PAGE OUT OF THE PATRIOTS’ PLAYBOOK

Go MGM Springfield, and Go Patriots!

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MGM Springfield – An “Urban” Casino

Mass Mutual Civic Center, Springfield, MA

Springfield casino seeks to blend into historic downtown.

Most new “brick & mortar”casinos, such as future casinos Wynn Boston Harbor & Tiverton Hotel/Casino, are built on open land, set back from their neighbors. But a newer approach is on the rise in Springfield, Massachusetts – the “Urban Casino.”

What is an Urban Casino? Finding a definition is difficult because it’s such a new concept.  These new genre of casinos have certain criteria in common:

This church was moved from the area that will be the casino floor.

  • They are built, usually in already existing buildings, although major renovations or completely new buildings like MGM Grand, are not out if the area.
  • They are built in an already existing Downtown area.
  • They are made to fit in the existing landscape of the city
  • They are not dependent upon having a hotel – some suggest no hotel is best because it allows visitors to explore city areas more, instead of the old idea of self-contained “hold ’em & keep ’em” hotel/casinos.

MGM is bringing a $950 million casino and hotel to the heart of a city with nearly four centuries of history, including the overnight stays of President James Polk and his secretary of state, James Buchanan, who became president in 1857 – according to Sean Murphy of the Boston Globe. “Prodded by local history buffs, MGM has pledged to integrate its 14-acre development into the downtown cityscape by preserving all or a portion of several treasured buildings, including the Union House, the 129-year-old First Spiritualist Church in Springfield which was moved so it could be preserved as part of the casino complex, and will include two very citys landmarks as important bookends on either side – the sturdy Mass Mutual building, built in the early 20th century, and the columned facade of the United Electric building. MGM plans to restore the magnificent United Electric lobby, a masterpiece that features terrazzo floors, marbled walls, and a stained-glass dome, to be displayed at the casino.

Blending In

In this prominent historic district of Detroit, the 30-story hotel tower with 400 guestrooms and suites anchors the property while providing a high-visibility link to the adjacent casino and event center.The idea of an Urban Casino is not new, but MGM’s goal is to blend it into the city of Springfield better than any other urban casinos already built.

The trend began with downtown casinos in Detroit, one of which is the Greektown Hotel-Casino in the historic Greektown District.

MGM Springfield’s plan is similar to Greektown – hotel without tower, casino within a city.

“It’s a glimpse of what future casinos may look like,” said Andrew Klebenow of Global Market Advisers, a Las Vegas-based casino consulting company. “Rather than build an island in the middle of the city, MGM wants to connect to the street grid and allow for the free flow of pedestrians and tourists into and out of its property.”

The casino is only a couple blocks from Court Square, a wide patch of green surrounded by a white steepled church, a building designed by famed 19th-century architect H.H. Richardson, and the classically styled City Hall and Symphony Hall. Nearby is the Mass Mutual Civic Center, an 8,000-seat arena, an arena where MGM will be managing entertainment options in close proximity.

“The idea is for casino patrons to venture out into the city to go to the symphony or to the Civic Center for a show,” said Robert McCarroll, a retired city planner and longtime preservationist.

Other Urban Casinos – OHIO

Horseshoe Cincinnati, now Jack Cincinnati.

Horseshoe Cincinnati,  Cincinnati, Ohio – the first to actually use phrase opened on Monday, March 4, 2013, closed and reopened under the brand Jack Cincinnati Casino in June 2016

The Horseshoe Casino, Cleveland

Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, Ohio (2012) – “originally planned as a temporary facility, but evolving into a permanent casino reusing already existing commercial property.

 

 

A City in Need

For decades, Springfield, the state’s third-largest city, has experienced a steady drain of jobs as factories moved or closed , with it’s current unemployment rate of almost 9 percent is about twice that of the state average. Many officials now look to the casino as the economic savior they were hoping it would be and promised by MGM and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Michael Mathis, president of MGM Springfield, said the company’s plan drew inspiration from the city’s “past and its future potential.” “We are very proud of our urban redevelopment casino model,” he said.

Main Street, Red Rose Pizza in the far left corner. In between is Howard Street to the Cinema, Bowling, and Event area

Here’s hoping the city of Springfield, with a new AHL Hockey franchise, a rise in entertainment options, and an improved transportation infrastructure, will rise to be a top New England destination.  With the connections that MGM International provides, and the comprehensive MLife Rewards Club with ties to 13 Las Vegas properties, MGM Springfield has the potential to become another success in the MGM’s portfolio.

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MGM Springfield – A Slideshow of Progress

 

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.

Enjoy

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