SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Springfield voters said yes to MGM's casino proposal.
Twice in the 1990's, Springfield voters said "no" to casinos, but on Tuesday, they couldn't turn down what MGM is offering.
"We won every neighborhood, we won every ward," MGM Springfield President Bill Hornbuckle made this statement during MGM's celebration Tuesday night.
Springfield voters approved MGM's casino project 58% to 42%. The 22news I-Team Poll we conducted in June showed 49% in favor of the casino project, 35% were opposed and 16% were undecided. A little more than half of those undecided voters said yes.
"They've probably seen the benefits that Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun have had and all the people they get in from around the country and those huge resorts," said Deborah Piotrowski who supports casinos.
You just don't see companies wanting to spend that type of money, upwards of $800 million in the city of Springfield. That's why this project gives some people hope.
"I think it's the economy. What we can to help revitalize the old section of town bring something new and new jobs just the way they've been promoting it," said Thomas Forment who supports MGM's plan.
Another reason could be location. Not just for western Massachusetts, but for larger cities like Hartford and Albany. MGM Springfield would be 15 minutes closer to Hartford than Mohegan Sun Connecticut and 20 minutes closer to Albany than its closest casino, Turning Stone.
"We are ideally positioned particularly on the I-91 corridor to reach down into Connecticut and pull some of those revenues and those tax dollars back up here instead of consistently tax dollars flowing into Connecticut," said Hornbuckle.
MGM will likely compete against Hard Rock in West Springfield and Mohegan Sun in Palmer for the sole western Massachusetts gaming license. The West Springfield Town Council needs to approve a referendum date, then the town must pass a referendum. Mohegan Sun needs to sign and approve a host agreement with Palmer. Then pass a referendum.
All three casino companies also need to pass the Mass Gaming Commission's background checks before they move on to the state level.