It’s a moment seven years in the making, MGM Springfield will open their doors Friday, becoming the largest and most expensive investment the city has ever seen.
The grand opening of MGM Springfield is a pivotal moment for the city, that all started several years ago with the stroke of a pen.
Governor Deval Patrick signed the state’s Expanded Gaming Act into Law in November of 2011, paving the way for Massachusetts to open three casinos, including one in Region B, or western Massachusetts.
Penn National proposed a casino in the North End of Springfield, Ameristar wanted to build in East Springfield, and MGM set their sights on the South End.
At that time, Springfield wasn’t the only city ready to roll the dice. Mohegan Sun was gambling on the town of Palmer, and Hard Rock International proposed a resort casino at the Big E in West Springfield.
Voters eventually struck down the proposals in Palmer and West Springfield.
Around that same time, Ameristar dropped out of the competition, leaving Springfield with two suitors… the city ultimately chose MGM.
In July of 2013, residents took a citywide vote, backing that decision.
But then came a new push to ban casinos, an effort that went all the way to the State Supreme Judicial Court. That led to a statewide ballot initiative in November of 2014.
Sixty percent of voters upheld the state’s casino law, paving the way for MGM Springfield.
In 2015, MGM Springfield officially broke ground.
The excitement was quickly followed by some disappointing announcements. MGM Springfield pushed back their opening date, from September of 2017 to September of 2018.
Then came the design changes. MGM Springfield scrapped the 25-story glass tower and downsized the entire casino by 14 percent.
The design changes didn’t stop construction from kicking into high gear. Progress was marked with two visible milestones, the demolition of the Zanetti School, and the transfer of the First Spiritualist Church, from Bliss Street to Union Street.
In November of 2017, the hiring process began.
With most of those jobs filled a few months later, MGM had one final announcement to make.
MGM was live on 22News when they announced that after seven years of competition, negotiations, and construction, the casino would officially open their doors to the public on August 24, a turning point for a city that set their sights on a vision, and never looked back.