WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Hard Rock wants to build a casino at the "Big E" in West Springfield. An exclusive 22News I-Team Poll reveals how West Springfield voters feel about that casino proposal.
In order for a casino to pass, it needs to have the support of elected officials and voters. To see if Hard Rock has support of voters, the 22News I-Team conducted a poll in West Springfield.
To win a casino license the town, or city, it is in must approve it. The 22News I-Team went to work at West Springfield polling stations to see how voters feel about Hard Rock's casino plan.
The 22News I-Team conducted a poll in West Springfield on the day of the special U.S. Senate election primary.
("Is there any way to sway your vote right now or are you a solid no?)
"I'm a solid no", says West Springfield's Ruth Howes.
("Would you support that yes, no, or undecided?")
"Absolutely", says West Springfield's Nicole Shibley.
The 22News I-Team stayed at the different precincts until we had enough for a fair sample, more than 500 voters. Then we compiled the data.
We asked 531 West Springfield registered voters, "If a vote on the Hard Rock casino at the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) were held today, would you support their casino plan in West Springfield?
More than half said no (56%). 26% said yes. 18% were undecided. The margin of error is just +/- 4%. Men were more likely than woman to say yes, but the majority said no.
We wanted to share those numbers with the President of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino New England to see if their polling matched up to what we found.
(Hard Rock has obviously done similar surveys in this area. Do these numbers match up, are they similar at all, or are you seeing something completely different?)
"No, we've taken some internal polling and it kind of marries up with the results you provided. We think we're a little bit closer than what you indicated, but its not that far off," says Hard Rock New England President Tim Maland.
Both Hard Rock and West Springfield Mayor Greg Neffinger hold that the voters will come around
("Even after we talked to 500 people and the majority said no. You still think there's a chance this could pass later?")
"Absolutely, I think we've only just started to get into this. Right now I'm trying to change the shift so we can dig into the topics, which we've never done, everything has been really general so far," says Neffinger
("Is their a concern that West Springfield the voters just may not approve a casino here?")
"I don't believe in my heart that the voters once they learn the message are going to vote against this project," says Maland.
Hard Rock believes they will get their message out through education and an advertising campaign.
Mayor Neffinger told the 22News I-Team he still isn't sold on the idea of a casino in West Springfield, but still wants to see Hard Rock's complete package.