WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - On Tuesday September 10th, three days before the "Big E" opens its doors to hundreds of thousands of visitors, West Springfield voters will vote on one "Yes-or-No" question: Should West Springfield allow the development of a gaming establishment on the grounds of the Eastern State Exposition?
An unanimous vote Tuesday night, the West Springfield Town Council approved Hard Rock's request to hold the town-wide casino referendum on Tuesday, September 10th, three days before the start of the "Big E."
Hard Rock New England President Tim Maland told 22News, "Kids are back in school. People are back in their business routine. And they are saying okay, what's ahead of us? Right away it's this election and we think the more people the better. We really want the big turnout."
Watch the video above and hear from residents who support Hard Rocks proposal.
Hard Rock needs a "Yes" vote to move forward in the casino selection process. If West Springfield voters say "No," Hard Rock will have to withdraw their current application to build a resort casino in West Springfield.
Some casino supporters have already started the "Yes" campaign. They say Hard Rock's proposal will add jobs and solve some existing traffic problems.
Dottie Campofredano of West Springfield said, "They've got the road in the back. They've got the extra lane coming in from Agawam Bridge. That should alleviate I would say 75% of it."
Hard Rock officials have promised to improve Memorial Avenue and build a secondary entrance behind the "Big E" to alleviate any traffic issues, but some residents told 22News they are still concerned, and they want the "Big E" preserved as is.
Henry Stovall of West Springfield told 22News, "I live right in the main spot with traffic, you know. I live on Main Street and you come out of Route 20 down River Street into the Big E, and that's going to be worse."
They're hoping their neighbors take the time to study the issue before they vote.
Linda Williams of West Springfield told 22News, "Want to make sure that all of the residents of West Springfield become educated about what are the pros and what are the cons and make sure that people please go and vote."
Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen will come to western Massachusetts next Wednesday to talk to residents about the host community agreement.