WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - They're calling it Hard Rock New England. The Big E announced their partnership with the casino company today, and their plans to bring a resort casino to West Side.
If West Springfield wins the sole gaming license in Western Massachusetts, the Big E would get a whole lot bigger: a 200,000 sq. ft casino, hotel and spa, and live music venue. But what does that mean for the busy Memorial strip?
Memorial Avenue businesses are used to traffic. For seventeen days each year it comes to a standstill during New England's Great State Fair. But what if those crowds came year-round? This tattoo business is directly across from the fairgrounds. They fear the casino project would mean moving altogether.
"It would probably be detrimental. As far as being located in the same place for so many years it becomes word of mouth as opposed to having to advertise. Literally if we have to relocate it would probably take a lot of our business away," said Chad Washburn, an artist at the Pisst Fish Tattoo Company.
But one West Side landmark thinks the project is a match made in heaven-- from increased tax revenue to job creation for the area.
"Hard Rock, its brand is outstanding worldwide. And the Big E, in this area there's no one that does it better. It'd be a great spot to go to dinner, if you want to gamble a little bit. If not, go to a show," said EJ Barkett who owns White Hut.
Dean Auto Sales has to clear the lot every year for the Big E because traffic is so bad. But their prime location could mean easy advertising to casino-goers.
"I think it will be a different traffic. I don't think it'll be bumper to bumper like during the Big E. I think the visibility will be good. Maybe ill get lucky and somebody will win some money and come buy a car right?" said Randy Rindels of Dean Auto Sales.
The project would create between 1500 and 2000 jobs, and Hard Rock says they'll hire local first. The company has also hired local consultants to help with traffic mitigation plans.