Las Vegas casino giant MGM will give a presentation to city officials at a forum on Wednesday at the City Stage in Massachusetts that will explain the reasons and implications for the significant changes planned to its $800 million MGM Springfield casino.
Due to skyrocketing construction costs, last month the company submitted a proposal to city officials that included plans to change the casino’s 25-story hotel tower to a six-story low rise while maintaining the original number of rooms in addition to moving an apartment complex from a 14-acre site to a different downtown location. Those relocation plans as well as the ongoing historical preservation issues were resolved in an October meeting when the commission and MGM Resorts International agreed the changes would not adversely affect the areas historic buildings or features.
However, the company’s most recent announcement that the overall size of the development will be reduced by 14 percent, which includes a decrease of approximately 122,000 square feet of space that was to be devoted to dining, retail, and non-gambling entertainment, is concerning to many in Springfield. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who is among the concerned, was unaware of the latest change to the scope of the resort until disclosed in a state agency filing. That oversight was the focus of a private meeting between Sarno and MGM Resorts International Chief Executive James Murren on October 29. The meeting, intended to mend fences, was followed by a public apology from Murren for the communication lapse.
Murren said that more changes might also be possible, but that they would be minor ones. The CEO said the resort’s new design improves the project and that MGM will still deliver the promised $25 million in annual payments, 2,000 constructions jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs to the city. The October 29 meeting was the second time during the month that an executive from MGM has made the trip to Springfield to assure the public, as well as city officials, that the Las Vegas-based company is unwavering in its plans for the casino project.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the city council and Springfield’s mayor will still need to approve any material changes to the casino development contract between the city and MGM. Originally scheduled to open in early summer of 2017 the MGM Springfield’s opening is now set for June 1, 2018.