MGM Resorts International received a unanimous vote from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) officially granting MGM Springfield a license to operate a resort casino in Downtown Springfield. The license is effective Nov. 7.
In June, the MGC entered into an agreement to award MGM Resorts the Region B Category 1 License upon final resolution of a ballot initiative to make gaming illegal in Massachusetts. On Tuesday, Massachusetts voters overwhelming supported keeping the gaming statute in place.
James J. Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International said, "This has been one of the most exciting weeks in MGM's history. We are grateful to the voters of the Commonwealth, and especially the people of Springfield for voting for jobs and economic opportunities. Today we want to thank the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for formalizing our agreement that will allow us to revitalize a great downtown."
MGM will pay its $85 million licensing fee to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission on Monday, Nov. 17.
Murren said, "I want to commend the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for working with operators and other stakeholders to navigate what has been a long and challenging process. Their commitment to transparency and the spirit of the legislation has made our project stronger."
Together with volunteers and supporters, the MGM team celebrated a wide margin of victory on Tuesday night, as more than 1.2 million Massachusetts voters said no to Question 3, the effort to repeal the law enacted in 2011 that allows gaming resorts in Massachusetts. With more than 300 people in attendance at the Basketball Hall of Fame, the MGM team took to the stage to thank Springfield residents for their perseverance. Many in the room were voting in favor of a casino in Downtown Springfield for the second time in less than 18 months. Mayor Domenic Sarno also addressed the jubilant crowd, and said he looked forward to "shovels in the ground."
Following the historic vote, MGM Springfield immediately began work on the property. On Wednesday morning, heavy equipment was at the Howard Street School to conduct geotechnical soil assessments. The site will house a 3,500-space parking garage. This is the first time since 2012, when MGM first formally announced its interest in a resort casino in Springfield, that construction activity has taken place on the site. It signals the kick off to early preparations for a Spring 2015 groundbreaking.
MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said, "It is extremely gratifying to have equipment on site, not only because it signals the start of the work, but because the people of Springfield no longer have to imagine. Their future is now."
MGM Springfield, an $800-million investment, is designed to ignite an urban revival. MGM and its professional partners worked painstakingly to put together a design that celebrates the history of Springfield while moving the Gateway City into a new era of commerce and economic opportunity.
The integrated resort casino is designed to enhance the entire urban center of Springfield. The mixed-used development project calls for a 25-story 250-room hotel with world-class amenities including a spa, pool and roof deck; 125,000 square feet of gaming space with 3,000 slot machines, 75 gaming tables, a poker room and high limit VIP gambling area; about 55,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space that will accommodate 15 shops and restaurants; and a multi-level parking garage.
Plans also envision a high-energy dining, retail and entertainment district with an eight-screen cinema, bowling alley and an outdoor stage. This will be developed by Davenport Properties of Boston, MA, in partnership with MGM on land now occupied by the tornado-ravaged South End Community Center and Howard Street School.
Mathis said, "Before year's end we will finalize critical construction permits and close on real estate transactions, including 1200 Main Street and 73 State Street. Additionally, in early 2015 we will announce our general contractor."
MGM Springfield will bring 3,000 permanent jobs and 2,000 construction jobs to Downtown Springfield. MGM has established a hiring goal of 35 percent of the workforce from the City of Springfield and 90 percent from a combination of Springfield and the region. Additionally, MGM Springfield has entered into surrounding community agreements with neighboring communities providing for tens of millions of dollars and has committed to spending approximately $50 million annually with regional vendors and suppliers.
Mathis added, "We have worked hard to develop a master plan to construct a world-class urban casino resort proposal that will anchor a renaissance for an important Gateway City and the region around it. We now look forward to that becoming a reality."
The MGM Springfield site is located on approximately 14.5 acres of land between Union and State streets, and Columbus Avenue and Main Street.