|By Brian Dowling, The Hartford
CourantMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 22, 2012--MGM Resorts International officially entered the race for a Western Massachusetts casino license by announcing today an $800 million plan for downtown Springfield.
The announcement, held today at the MassMutual Convention Center in Springfield, Mass., details MGM's concept to redevelop 10 acres of tornado-damaged property with a dining, retail and entertainment district.
The district, 3 blocks of downtown Springfield that lies just 200 feet from I-91, would be linked to the convention center with a foot-bridge.
MGM's Chief Marketing Officer, William Hornbuckle, said West Hartford's Blue Back Square was an inspiration for creating a city scene that's outfacing.
MGM Springfield would create some 2,000 construction-related jobs and "many thousands" of permanent jobs, as well as generating "millions" of dollars in annual tax revenues, the company estimated.
The complex would have 89,000 square feet of gambling space and 570,000 square feet of retail space, along with a 12-screen cinema, bowling alley and other amenities.
MGM also announced today that it has submitted a non-refundable $400,000 application fee to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. This fee will be used by the state of Massachusetts and the city of Springfield to vet and negotiate the plan.
"We believe this is a significant demonstration of our desire to partner with Springfield and it gives the MGC and the city the resources they need to move forward during the groundbreaking phase for a new industry in Massachusetts," Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM, said in a prepared statement.
"We're a company that tries to find ever increasing ways to connect with our customer and have experiences that extend well beyond gaming," said Murren, adding that last year about 62 percent of MGM's revenues came from nongaming sources.
Additionally, MGM launched mgmspringfield.com, a community resource web site about the project. The site includes a vision statement, renderings and sitemaps, as well as the opportunity for the community to share thoughts.
At least five other entertainment companies may be vying for a single Western Massachusetts casino license. Ameristar has already announced a development plan and two other companies, Penn National and Hard Rock International, are both believed to be planning potential bids in Westfield and Holyoke, respectively.
Mohegan Sun may also be in the running for the license, with plans for a $600 million development in Palmer, Mass.
Springfield is about 90 miles west of Boston and 26 miles north of Hartford, Connecticut.
A Reuters report was also included in this story.
(c)2012 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)
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