WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Hard Rock is proposing to build a resort casino on the Big E fairgrounds, and Tuesday night, Hard Rock representatives will answer questions and are hoping to win some community support from residents.
That meeting started at 7 o'clock Tuesday night at the Mittineague School in West Springfield. Hard rock is one of three developers competing for a western Massachusetts Gambling License.
Hard Rock plans on investing $800 million in West Springfield, if they win the western Massachusetts gambling license. They also say they will bring 3,500 full-time, permanent jobs.
People are still concerned about gambling addiction problems. Perry Parent of West Springfield told 22News, "You've got people struggling with jobs and on government assistance. And to put it in the backyard, they are going to take their government assistance and try to win their rent."
Some people in West Springfield are worried about traffic issues. They don't want Memorial Avenue to be backed up year round, but some residents told 22News they are more interested in economic benefits of having a casino in their backyard.
"If it's going to be local anyway and we are going to feel the negative effects of it anyway, we might as well have the positive effects too, and see the revenue in our town rather than over the river," said Marci Ferraro of West Springfield.
Hard Rock New England President Tim Maland told 22News these question and answer sessions have helped them revise their proposal to better suit interests of West Springfield residents.
"We were thinking the property was going to be located close to Memorial Avenue, and now we learned and listened. We believe that the best location, where it's designed today, is all the way up against the dike, furthest away from Memorial as possible," said Maland.
Right now, Hard Rock has not signed a host agreement with the town of West Springfield but as of about three weeks ago they said they are speeding up the conversation.
Hard Rock is still in the process of negotiating a host agreement with the Town of West Springfield, but even if they sign an agreement with the city, they need the majority of West Springfield voters to approve it.
Hard Rock expects to sign a host agreement with West Springfield in a week or two.
If the host agreement is signed before July 15th, the casino referendum vote in West Springfield will be held some time before September 15th.