Springfield, Massachusetts Approves MGM $800 Million Casino Plan
July 17–Springfield voters strongly approved MGM’s $800 million casino proposal in a citywide summertime vote last night in an election marked by high spending and low voter turnout.
Residents approved the downtown Springfield gambling palace 58-42 percent last night. Voter turnout was only 25 percent — just 24,278 residents went to the polls in a city with 98,115 registered voters.
“MGM’s grateful to the voters of Springfield for their engagement and participation and for enthusiastically saying yes to jobs, yes to downtown revitalization and yes to more opportunity and hope,” said MGM Resorts President Bill Hornbuckle.
Peter Swarr of Citizens Against Casino Gaming vowed to take their fight to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and noted Everett voters passed their referendum with much stronger support — 87 percent voted yes.
“We were outspent 2,400 dollars to one,’ said Swarr. “So we’re actually quite pleased with how close the vote turned out.”
MGM’s casino proposal calls for 850,000 square feet over three city blocks featuring a hotel, movie theater, bowling alley, shops and restaurants.
The company is promising 2,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs.
MGM is competing against two other proposals for the one casino license in the western region of the state. Mohegan Sun has proposed a $1 billion casino in the town of Palmer and hopes to have a referendum by Sept. 15.
Hard Rock International hopes to build an $800 million resort at the Big E in West Springfield, but the company is still ironing out a host community agreement with public officials.
It’s been a costly fight for MGM.
The Herald reported earlier this week that MGM had given nearly $1 million in donations and in-kind contributions to the pro-casino group “Yes For Springfield.”
It was the second casino referendum since the Bay State legalized gambling last year. Everett voters approved a proposal for a Wynn Resort casino last month, cranking up pressure on the Suffolk Downs team that is negotiating a host agreement with the city of Boston.
Mayoral spokeswoman Dot Joyce said, “The negotiations have been going well, and we hope to soon have something more concrete to announce.”
Suffolk Downs officials did not return calls yesterday.