|By Brian Hallenbeck, The Day, New London,
Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 28, 2012--MGM Resorts International, the Las Vegas-based gaming giant expected to vie with Mohegan Sun and others for a western Massachusetts casino license, has abandoned its plan to develop a resort in the town of Brimfield.
In a statement, the company said Tuesday it will seek another western Massachusetts location.
"The unique nature of MGM's plans for an all-inclusive world-class resort on the Brimfield site, and our growing understanding of the needed scope for its infrastructure, simply do not allow us to pursue the comprehensive MGM resort originally envisioned here," Bill Hornbuckle, MGM's chief marketing officer, said in the statement.
MGM's Brimfield project called for construction of a $600 million resort that was to be accessible only by a proposed ramp from Interstate 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Supporters of Mohegan Sun's plan to build a resort casino of a similar scale in Palmer, a town adjacent to Brimfield, welcomed MGM's announcement.
Paul Burns, president of the Palmer Town Council, said it "serves to reinforce the strength of a Palmer site for a western Mass resort casino. As the sole remaining truly rural casino proposal in the state, Palmer continues to stand head and shoulders above other locations in terms of access, infrastructure, community support and location."
Mohegan Sun would partner on the development of a resort casino on a site off Exit 8 of the Mass Pike.
In its statement, MGM Resorts said it has a mutual agreement with Rolling Hills Realty Trust, the owner of the Brimfield site it hoped to develop, to end its development efforts in the tiny, rural town.
"MGM remains committed to developing an MGM-quality project in western Massachusetts and we are actively pursuing other potential development sites," Hornbuckle said.
MGM will continue to work from a Brimfield office as it considers other sites, the company said.
MGM announced its Brimfield project in January in the wake of Massachusetts' authorization of three casinos and one slots parlor. Other big-name operators, including Ameristar Casinos of Las Vegas, Hard Rock International of Orlando, Fla., and Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing, Pa., have also floated proposals for western Massachusetts.
In 2006, MGM entered into a "strategic alliance" with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe under which the tribe branded its second casino as MGM Grand at Foxwoods.
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