The actual opening of MGM Springfield is still over 18 months away, but Wednesday was still a time to celebrate for both MGM Resorts and Springfield, MA residents.
Construction workers laid the final beam on the MGM Springfield hotel in a ceremony. Members of the city council, MGM, and Springfield residents gathered to celebrate the completion of the latest phase of the $950 million project.
Casino is positive news for former federal disaster area
On June, 1, 2011, a series of tornadoes ravaged the city of Springfield, killing four people. The destruction was so widespread, President Barack Obama eventually declared the town a federal disaster area.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno envisions MGM Springfield as a monument to how far the city has come since the devastation. Sarno was mayor when the tornadoes hit as well. Almost immediately after the storms, Sarno quickly began focusing on uplifting citizens’ spirits and rebuilding the city.
“From that storm rises a phoenix,” Sarno proclaimed at the event.
The mayor selected MGM from a number of Springfield casino proposals in 2013.
Massachusetts casino construction over halfway complete
MGM Springfield will be the second casino in the state. Plainridge Park, a slot parlor in the southeastern part of the state, opened in 2015.
The gigantic casino resort planned for Springfield will be much larger than Plainridge. The final casino plans are different from MGM’s original pitch, though.
The casino company raised some eyebrows in 2015 when it announced it was revising its hotel plan. Rather than having a 25-story hotel in downtown Springfield, the hotel component was going to be a six-story endeavor covering a much wider area.
Sarno happily approved, but other city lawmakers were not as positive. City Council President Kevin Fenton and Councilor Kateri Walsh both spoke out about their surprise and disappointment. MGM asserted the changes would not affect the size of the hotel. Still, the elimination of the visual of a tall building was a letdown to many.
The attitudes were positive this week, however. With a $950 million budget, the end product seems to be something both the casino and the city find satisfying.
Interstate construction next major piece for MGM Springfield
The next big step for Springfield and MGM is to finish construction on I-91. The interstate already resulted in an opening day delay. The casino was originally supposed to open later this year, but MGM pushed the deadline to 2018 in order to accommodate the road construction.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation needs to finish work on the I-91 viaduct before the casino can open without creating massive traffic congestion.
In the meantime, construction crews will continue to work on the MGM property. The casino project generated over 2,000 construction jobs. It will create another 3,000 permanent jobs once it opens.
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