The irony was not lost on Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. Less than 4 years after a tornado damaged a significant portion of downtown Springfield as it ripped through Massachusetts, this recently licensed $800 million dollar resort casino project will “rise like a Phoenix from the ashes” to become the largest private development project in the City’s history. Tuesday March 24thsaw a host of local and state officials, MGM executives, community leaders and well-wishers gather for the groundbreaking ceremony of this landmark development. The project is slated to be completed in 2017, and will give a desperately needed economic shot in the arm to Springfield and Western MA in general with the prospects of 3,000+ jobs once the construction stops and the ribbon is cut. MGM president Jim Murren, one of 6 who took to the podium this morning, was glowing in his praise for Mayer Sarno and all those involved in bringing this to fruition, and looks forward to the day when Springfield and its existing attractions such as the National Basketball Hall of Fame and Mass Mutual Center are all benefiting from increased traffic that the casino will bring. Everyone was invited to place a wish in the wishing well to be buried on the site, and Jim Murren shared his wish that he hoped he could “deliver on all of the promises” he and MGM made during the process.
For decades that Aquinnah tribe (Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head)of Martha’s Vineyard has been trying to assert their rights to develop a casino on the island. The appetite for gaming licenses seems to be waning with the granting of a license to MGM in Springfield, and a still contentious license to Wynn in Everett, with the 3rd resort casino license still to be determined in Southeastern, MA but being “held” for the Mashpee Wampanoags (no relation to the Aquinnah’s). In addition, the slots only license was granted to Penn Gaming for the now under construction “racino” at the former Plainridge Racecourse harness Race Track. This case remains in U.S. District Court. Stay tuned.