Plans Set For Celebration To Mark Revival Of Union Station
With a date set for the public reopening of Springfield’s Union Station after a years-long restoration project, details have been announced for a celebration.
Picture people in black tie formal wear and fancy evening gowns dancing in the main concourse of an elegant train station.
It’s not a social media-scheduled flash mob, or a scene from a Hollywood movie, but what is set to happen on the evening of June 24th when a gala dinner dance begins one of the most anticipated moments in the region’s history: the reopening of Union Station.
No one anticipates the moment more than Congressman Richard Neal.
"I always saw a glimmer of opportunity here based on what this station had once meant to western Massachusetts," Neal said at a press conference to announce the schedule for reopening Union Station.
Neal first called for restoring the train station as a candidate for Springfield City Council in 1977. As a Congressman, he secured most of the $95 million that was spent to bring Union Station back to life after 40 years of dormancy.
" The tasteful restoration of this building which has actually be closed for almost half its lifetime, 43 years," said Neal.
Members of Neal’s congressional staff have been heavily involved in planning the details for the celebration. The logistics are being handled by the nonprofit Spirit of Springfield.
Tickets to the event are $200. A spokeswoman for Spirit of Springfield said the ticket proceeds are expected to cover the costs for catering, live music, furniture rentals, and other expenses.
On Sunday, June 25th there will be a private reception in the morning for the construction workers on the project and their families. An open house for the public will be held from noon to 2 p.m. The first “business day” for Union Station in its role as a modern transportation hub will be Monday, June 26th.
Several prominent business leaders have been named co-chairs for the gala including MGM Resorts International Chairman James Murren, whose company is building a casino just a few blocks from Union Station. MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said both projects signal a rebirth of Springfield.
"We believe it is the bookends of the resurgence of downtown with our project MGM Springfield on the south end and Union Station on the north end," said Mathis.
Mayor Domenic Sarno describes Union Station as an economic engine.
" You can see South Station in Boston and what has become there, and that is what we are looking to become here, " said Sarno.
Officials estimate Union Station will be used by 4 million passengers a year.