downtown Springfield

After almost 30 years with the Springfield Regional Chamber, the last five as president, Jeff Ciuffreda is retiring. 

The Springfield Sting logo in front of City Hall
WAMC

    The American Basketball Association (ABA) is bringing a team to the birthplace of the game.

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     The city of Springfield today renamed a downtown street in honor of the man credited with saving AHL hockey in western Massachusetts time and time again. 

exterior of the Dunbar Community Center
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The city of Springfield has made an offer to buy a financially-struggling community center that has been an urban oasis for inner-city youth for decades.

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   A new initiative called Futurecity Massachusetts looks to put culture and the arts at the core of economic development and revitalization projects.  The state’s three largest cities are the initial participants in the venture. 

   The Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Boston Foundation have hired consultant Mark Davy’s London-based Futurecity to come up with unique strategies for Boston, Worcester, and Springfield to use cultural assets, not just as passive attractions, but to drive job growth.

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Officials have had no luck tracking down antique wooden benches missing from Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts. So, now vocational school students may be enlisted to construct replicas to be included in the massive renovation of the historic transportation building.

Springfield Water and Sewer Commission Ex. Dir. Joshua Schimmel
WAMC

Although many pipes are more than a century old, the utility infrastructure in Springfield, Massachusetts is in good shape and is continually being upgraded, according to officials who spoke at a public forum. The roundtable was scheduled after a water main break last month caused a large sinkhole on Main Street and raised concerns about what is happening underground.

Stearns Square Park
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Springfield officials have announced plans to redevelop a downtown park to make it the center of a proposed dining district. The plan was announced during a visit this week by Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

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Massachusetts is the only state in the nation with a statewide bike week.  Hundreds of events are taking place this week from the Berkshires to Cape Cod where bicycling is highlighted as an alternative form of transportation. 

crews work to repair a hole in a street
WAMC

In the wake of a water main break that caused a large sinkhole in downtown Springfield earlier this month, city councilors have called for a series of meetings to discuss the status of the city’s underground infrastructure.

a corner face off in the MassMutual Center
MassMutual Center

Fates can change quickly in sports. The fates of two New England cities with long hockey histories became intertwined this week, with one winner and one loser.

Two weeks ago, people in Springfield, Massachusetts were bemoaning the loss of the city’s American Hockey League team to Tucson, Az. and the likely end of almost 80 years of professional hockey in western Massachusetts.

" I think people really thought we were losing hockey, but now it seems we've been able to pull a rabbit out of our hat," said  Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

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    The largest insurance industry trade group in the country is planning to bring an annual convention to Springfield, Massachusetts in 2018.  The mayor said it is a direct spinoff from the decision by MGM Resorts International to build a downtown casino.

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Gearing up for an influx of visitors when the MGM casino opens and new trains start to arrive daily at Union Station, officials in Springfield, Massachusetts have unveiled plans for new directional signage. 

The city will install a system of wayfinding signage throughout the downtown to point toward  landmarks, public parks, and cultural attractions with estimated walking times to the destinations. Mayor Domenic Sarno, who announced the plans in the rain Tuesday, said downtown Springfield is a very walkable environment.

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The Springfield Falcons are about to fly west for good.  The latest departure of a northeast American Hockey League team will leave Massachusetts without an AHL team for the first time since the 1950s.

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The city of Springfield, Massachusetts plans to hire 59 police officers this year, the largest addition to the city’s police department in 20 years. Along with the additional officers comes a new plan to deploy more cops downtown. 

The Springfield Police Department will create the Metro Policing Area, a special unit that will operate permanently along the downtown Main Street corridor between the location of the future MGM casino and Union Station.

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MGM  has secured approvals from Massachusetts casino industry regulators and the city of Springfield’s legislative body that allow it to demolish buildings and do other work to prepare the site where the company proposes to build a $950 million casino. After almost a year of delays, there could soon be significant construction work on the project.

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After months of planning and preparation, work is set to begin in earnest on a major highway project in western Massachusetts. The rehabilitation of the elevated portion of Interstate 91, known as the I-91 viaduct, through downtown Springfield will mean longer commutes and perhaps parking problems for the next two years.

An artists rendering of the proposed MGM Casino in Springfield, MA
MGMSpringfield

Massachusetts gambling regulators are pressing for more details on why the cost of MGM’s planned Springfield casino has ballooned.  The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, during a meeting in Springfield Thursday, heard mixed opinions from the public about changes in the project MGM is proposing in an effort to control the costs.

A photo of concrete barriers on Main Street in Springfield at the casino job site
WAMC

Businesses in the area where MGM is planning to build a resort casino in Springfield, Massachusetts complain about a loss of parking and a reduction in foot traffic. But it appears the business owners can expect no relief from the city.

Concrete barriers put around the 14-acre casino construction  site that extend out to just beyond the edge of the curb along heavily traveled Main and State Streets will remain in place after the Springfield City Council recently deadlocked 6-6 on a vote to order the removal of the structures.

City of Springfield

Could a Boston Red Sox affiliate minor league baseball team someday play in a brand new stadium in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts?    As one city official said, “Don’t be afraid to dream.”

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has had discussions with the managing general partner of the Pawtucket Red Sox about relocating the Triple-A team from its longtime Rhode Island home to Springfield.

"There has been talk and chatter and I am open to formal discussions," said Sarno.

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The box office opened this week for a new cultural season in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.  Tickets went on sale for 2015-2016 season for CityStage and Symphony Hall. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill previewed the upcoming season with CityStage and Symphony Hall President Tina D’Agostino.

An elevated portion of highway in Springfield, Ma.
WAMC

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has approved a delay in the opening date for the MGM Springfield casino because of a highway reconstruction project.   The casino regulators Thursday also signed off on an historic preservation plan that should clear the way for the Las Vegas-based entertainment giant to obtain the final permits required to begin building the state’s first resort casino. 

MGM Springfield

Another obstacle to the construction of the MGM Springfield casino has been removed.

The city of Springfield, following a search that took several months, has found a new location for the headquarters of the department of Health and Human Services, which is being evicted from a building that MGM plans to tear down to build an $800 million resort casino.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris said the public health office plans to move just a few blocks from 95 State St. into a building at 1145 Main St. that once housed a health clinic.

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Restaurant Week, which is a fixture on the cultural calendars in many cities, will debut this week in Springfield, Massachusetts. 

The first Springfield Restaurant Week will feature 18 participating eateries charging the fixed price of $20.15 per person for a 2-3 course dinner meal.  It is being held April 23-May 2.

" We want to show people that Springfield is happening, " said Morgan Drewniany, assistant director of the Springfield Business Improvement District, which is administering and publicizing the event.

A series of construction and redevelopment projects will be accomplished in 2017 that officials in Springfield, Massachusetts believe will allow the city to shed its image as a decaying former industrial city.    Springfield’s chief development officer laid out a vision of the city’s economic future – some of it admittedly speculative -- in a presentation last night to business leaders and civic boosters.

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Hundreds gathered today for the official groundbreaking of the MGM Springfield casino. The event marked a milestone in the development of the casino industry in Massachusetts and the planned transformation of downtown Springfield.

Against the backdrop of a tornado-damaged nearly century old former elementary school MGM officials welcomed elected officials, business and civic leaders, neighborhood residents, and state gaming industry regulators to celebrate the symbolic kickoff of construction of the state’s first casino resort.

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Massachusetts is the most Irish state in the country, with just over 21 percent of the population saying they are of Irish descent.  So, it is not surprising Saint Patrick’s Day is cause for ceremony and celebration.

   About 200 people gathered in front of Springfield City Hall Tuesday morning and watched the green, white, and orange flag of Ireland raised up a pole to fly over the city hall plaza for the day.

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A long vacant tornado-damaged building in Springfield, Massachusetts was demolished today, as city officials vowed to continue a neighborhood-by-neighborhood crackdown on blight.

A former auto parts store on Main Street in Springfield was torn down Monday. The building had been vacant for more than a decade. It was damaged by the 2011 tornado. A car crashed through it.  The single story building had been seized by the city for non-payment of taxes and Springfield officials could not find anyone to buy it for redevelopment.

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A family-run market that has been a fixture in the Italian American community in Springfield, Massachusetts for nearly a century is about to close.  The tiny market would be in the shadow of the resort casino that MGM is about to build. 

There will be no lines out the door and down the block of people waiting this summer to buy the Italian lemon ice –made from a secret family recipe.  Tiny Albano’s market on East Columbus Ave. in Springfield’s South End neighborhood is closing after 73 years in business.

MGM Springfield

MGM is planning a spring groundbreaking for the $800 million resort casino the Las Vegas-based entertainment giant is building in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. Several important steps in the complex project will happen over the next few weeks.

Although construction cranes won’t appear in the sky for several months, workers and visitors in downtown Springfield will shortly notice changes as MGM prepares the 14.5 acre site for the project that promises to transform Springfield, economically and culturally, for decades to come.

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