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MGM Outlines Construction Timetable For Springfield Casino

MGM Springfield

MGM has scheduled a groundbreaking two weeks from today to begin constructing an $800 million resort casino in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.

One of the biggest construction projects in a generation in Springfield will begin with the demolition of a former elementary school—the Zanetti school that was damaged by the 2011 tornado. By the end of the year, eighteen more buildings are to be torn down and other work done to prepare a 14.5 acre site for the construction of a parking garage, a hotel, and casino.

MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said since the company was formally awarded a state casino license last November the company has closed on the purchase of $50 million worth of real estate it needs for the development.

" We are in the early stages of clearing the site and hiring some of our first contractors, so you will see the first construction spending," said Mathis.  " Things will go quickly now. We are anxious to get this started."

MGM last week released an outline of the construction schedule. It calls for the casino to open in September 2017.

Delays in obtaining approvals from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to tear down some buildings could put a snag in the project’s construction timetable, according to MGM officials. MGM has been working with the city’s historic commission on preservation agreements for certain structures and the contents of some buildings.

" There's been some healthy friction about what they are interested in doing and what we think makes sense for the project, " said Mathis.

MGM granted extensions to March 1st eviction deadlines to some of the tenants in the buildings it plans to demolish including the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department’s  substance abuse treatment center and the headquarters of the city of Springfield’s health department.

" There are only one or two of those situations. Everyone else  has had a plan and we've been able to assist in getting the relocations done," said Mathis.

The project is expected to create 2,000 construction jobs.  Mathis said MGM plans to bid the  work on the  big  project  in segments to give more opportunities to local contractors.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby applauded MGM’s plan to spread around the construction jobs.

" It is totally compatable with our aspirations to use local businesses and diverse businesses and it is a great thing for western Massachusetts," said Crosby.

The gaming commission will monitor the construction to ensure MGM complies with the terms of the casino license including employment targets for minorities, women and veterans.

The MGM Springfield project calls for a casino with 3,000 slot machines and 75 table games, and a 250-room four star hotel.  It also includes restaurants and shops, a movie theater, bowling alley, a skating rink and 50 residential apartments.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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