Major demolition began on Tuesday morning in preparation for MGM Resorts International’s $950 million resort casino in downtown Springfield.
It’s almost been a year since photographs were taken with construction workers and machinery at the former Alfred G. Zanetti School in the South End, as a backdrop for MGM’s ceremonial groundbreaking for the Springfield casino. Following city zoning and state environmental approvals, on Tuesday construction crews were out in full force making good on MGM ‘s most recent announcement that it would begin clearing buildings from the site downtown where it plans to begin building the first casino in western Massachusetts, according to WNPR. The casino remains on schedule to open in the fall of 2018, according to MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis. Even though controversial changes to the original plan proposed by MGM, including eliminating a 25-story building, have yet to be approved by city and state officials, MGM is going ahead with demolition work.
A host of issues have caused what has been billed as Springfield’s biggest single construction project, and the largest economic development project in western Massachusetts history, to sputter along for most of 2015. MGM’s costs rose as the delays mounted. Not even MGM’s redesign of the hotel-casino complex could keep expenses curtailed; by the year’s end the budget for the project had increased by $150 million.
Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, the two tribes that operate Connecticut’s two casinos formed MMCT Venture in Connecticut in order to compete with MGM’s mega resort in neighboring Springfield, and will directly compete with MGM Springfield by building a third casino. A lawsuit to block the competition has been filed by MGM.