MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said the excitement and enthusiasm he heard on Thursday night when he met with downtown residents, echoes what he hears around the city.

Mathis made the comments during a meeting of the Armory Quadrangle Civic Association after having met with more than 50 residents of downtown Springfield for an hour and a half. During the meeting at the Classical Condominiums, he shared the most recent information regarding MGM’s $950 million casino project and answered a multitude of questions. Immediately after the presentation, Mathis told the residents that now that the project has begun, they can see that MGM’s commitment is real.

He said that design changes and questions regarding when and if the project would proceed resulted in some anxiety. The significant changes that were made include moving the hotel from State Street to Main Street and building a six-story hotel instead of the 25-story hotel in the original proposal. Plans for the hotel to be a four-star facility remained the same while the number of rooms increased by two for a total of 252 rooms. At the meeting, Mathis told residents that the project that is slated to open in September of 2018 remains on target, and that MGM’s commitments including the creation of 3,000 jobs remain intact.

Carol Costa, the downtown civic association’s president praised the presentation and called MGM Springfield “wonderful friends.” She went on to say that “No one has been a better partner to us and better friend to us in the neighborhood, particularly this downtown neighborhood than MGM,” according to Mass Live. Costa said that they want the community to be excited, informed, and to be positive about the future of downtown Springfield.

Responding to specific questions, Mathis said of the issue of public safety that MGM is committed to working in unison with the Springfield Police Department. He said that cameras will be everywhere and that the “traffic and crowds” that accompany a casino results in a safe environment. When asked about vacant or deteriorated properties outside of the casino, he said that MGM expects many other landlords to be prompted to invest in their properties as a result of the project, saying, “I think there is going to be an infusion of capital around us.”

He did not know the dimensions of the pool when asked but said that he would get that information. When asked about whether the project might open sooner than September, he said that due to arrangements made with vendors it was unlikely. He also said that MGM wants to avoid any possibility of opening before the completion of the renovation of Interstate 91 adjacent to the casino.

During Mathis’ PowerPoint presentation, questions continued to flow from the audience regarding the ice rink, movie theaters, the type of restaurants that will come, and if the project might open in pieces, with some portions opening earlier than others. In response to the latter, Mathis said the project will open in its entirety and that MGM is working on ways to bring regional, national and local food and restaurants to the project. He said the ice rink and movie theater remain in MGM’s plans. Responding to another question, he said that in keeping with state law, the casino will be a non-smoking facility.