WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - West Springfield voters will decide the fate of Hard Rock's casino proposal in just two weeks (September 10th).
The 22News I-Team surveyed the pulse of West Springfield in the spring and we went out again to see if the consensus has changed their mind.
When Hard Rock unveiled its plan to build a casino at the Eastern States Exposition it had a lot of work to do. Our 22News I-Team poll in April revealed that more than half of the likely voters would have said no if the vote was held then.
Back in April Hard Rock said they didn't think residents were informed yet and they needed more time to get their word out. Now with two weeks left until the election we thought it was time to check back in.
The 22News I-Team got the list of West Springfield active registered voters. For two days, we randomly went door to door in each precinct during the day.
At night we called voters at home and accounted for voters running errands by standing outside a grocery store and cross-checking their information with the voter registry.
In the spring, we surveyed 531 West Springfield voters and more than half said no. 26% said yes and 18% were undecided.
Nearly four months later, that gap has completely closed. We surveyed 376 likely voters. With 5% margin of error, 44% now say yes. 43% said no and 13% are undecided.
The 22News I-Team shared our results with Hard Rock New England President Tim Maland.
"When we started here months ago, talking to the community about our project. We were behind in the polling that we did internally by double digits. So what we've done in the month's since then is moved the undecided's into the yes category and even converted some no's", says Maland.
The 22News I-Team also showed West Springfield mayor Greg Neffinger the numbers.
"We feel that it's definitely shows trending up and I would say that Hard Rock is confident that it's going to continue trending up until the election day", says Mayor Neffinger.
(Obviously a big part of this is that this passes by a large margin. Are you feeling confident this will pass by a large margin?)
"I would say that from what Hard Rock's telling me they feel pretty confident that this is going to pass", says Neffinger.
Hard Rock released their internal polling numbers on Monday, with a higher margin of error and a 20 percent smaller sample size, they believe 50% of the voters are already yes votes.
(How confident are you moving forward in these last couple weeks and what is the strategy in these last couple weeks here?)
"To remain open and transparent to talk to people to answer questions so people understand the project and understand the implications before they vote on September 10th", says Maland.
West Springfield will hold its casino referendum on Tuesday September 10th. If it passes West Springfield will compete against MGM Springfield and possibly Mohegan Sun in Palmer for the region's sole gaming license.
Mohegan Sun will announce its host agreement on Thursday (August 29th) and Palmer will have to hold a referendum between 60-90 of when the agreement is signed.