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Community TV Gets Eviction Reprieve From MGM Springfield

There will be no interruption in programming this month on community television in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Production will go on at a studio located in the footprint of where the MGM casino complex is under construction. 

Focus Springfield Community Television was notified last March that it had until this month to vacate the first-floor space it occupies in a downtown office building.  But now the landlord, MGM, has extended the lease for at least a year.

 It is a temporary, but nonetheless welcome, relief, says Focus Springfield Executive Director John Abbott.

"We are pleased we get to stay here for at least another year," said Abbott. " It will give us time to locate and plan our new studio."

Until the reprieve came recently, Abbott said Focus Springfield was resigned to leaving the $1 million studio and production complex it opened only three years ago.

"We can't stand in the way of progress, " said Abbott. " MGM is giving a tremendous boost to the community. It is just unfortunate for us that it is happening in our spot, but that's the way things happen."

 In June 2014, Focus Springfield dedicated a 6,500-square foot video production and studio facility in a long-vacant retail space on the ground floor of an 8-story office building at State and Main Streets.  Sidewalk-to-ceiling glass windows were installed in a bid to draw more attention to the area and spur additional development.

MGM later bought the building for $8.4 million.

" One of the impacts of MGM locating here is that property values have gone up, and so rents have gone up and I suspect as a result we will not be relocating in downtown Springfield," Abbott said.

When the time comes, money will be sought from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Community Mitigation Fund to cover the expenses for relocating the production facilities and constructing a new studio, according to Abbott.

" We will submit an application to that fund because we are being pushed out of our current location as a direct result of the casino," said Abbott.

Saverio Mancini, Director of Communications for MGM Springfield, said a decision on the long term future for the space now occupied by Focus Springfield will be made after the casino opens next year.

" We can evaluate the traffic flow around there and determine the best tenant to take the space in the long term,"  explained Mancini.  "But for right now we are  going to leave it as the Focus Springfield television station."

MGM has committed to keeping the upper floors of the building at 1200 Main St. as office space.

The community television operation, financed by the city’s cable provider Comcast, affords Springfield residents an opportunity to develop and produce programs on three public access channels on the cable system.  It also provides gavel-to-gavel live coverage of City Council and School Committee meetings.

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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