SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – MGM Springfield celebrated its five-year anniversary in the City of Firsts on Thursday.

Governor Deval Patrick signed the state’s Expanded Gaming Act into Law in November of 2011, paving the way for Massachusetts to open up to 3 casinos, including one in western Massachusetts. This lead to a complete makeover of the South End, an area that was caught in the path of the June 1st tornado.

The casino closed on those properties in 2014 and then broke ground the next year eventually demolishing the school and moving the First Spirtualist Church from Bliss Street to Union Street while keeping the castle-like facade of the Armory.

Along the way, MGM Springfield had to push back their opening date from September 2017 to September 2018. They also scrapped plans for a 25-story glass tower and downsized the entire casino by 14%. Construction continued on until MGM announced live on 22News that the billion-dollar project would be ready to open on August 24th.

MGM Springfield opened its doors to the public for the first time on August 24, 2018, and five years and a billion dollars later, MGM has established itself as an entertainment anchor in downtown Springfield.

MGM Springfield was also able to bring in-person sports betting to their casino and they opened the door for online wagering in the future, ultimately bringing more foot traffic to the city than ever before. Sports betting so far this year brought in over $83,000 in tax revenue that the state then allocates to funds that invest in the workforce, public health, and young people.

MGM has become an economic engine bringing jobs and opportunity to those in the city and surrounding communities. However, concerns about the city’s host community agreement were made by local lawmakers. Back in January MGM Resorts International CEO and President William Hornbuckle was in Springfield to meet with Mayor Domenic Sarno about the agreement.

Since then the casino has added jobs and reopened the Kringle Emporium and the Indian Motorcycle Retail store. Inside the casino, there are now more regular and expanded hours for restaurants and attractions.

In all, casino President Chris Kelly says MGM has paid $100 million in taxes to the city of Springfield alone. City leaders also celebrated the economic transformation happening in the casino’s footprint like more housing and local businesses.

Next up for the downtown area, is the opening of a new Civic Center Parking Garage and a comedy show at the MassMutual Center featuring Jon Stewart, John Mulaney, and Pete Davidson.

Mayor Sarno states, “The continued positive transformation and resurgence of our downtown Springfield is a hallmark of my administration.  From celebrating the 5th year anniversary of the grand opening of MGM Springfield, the opening of the very successful Big Y Express downtown grocery store, to the construction of a new state-of-the-art multi-use parking garage facility next to the MassMutual Center, the new Marriott Hotel, Restaurant Row, market-rate housing at the former Willys-Overland building, SilverBricks Lofts, and the soon to be completed 31 Elm Street and Court Square projects, are just some of the many positive endeavors and economic development projects my administration has supported and advanced, with more good news to come.”

“As a matter of fact, according to the recent economic data, all of this positive economic development and attractions, shows and amenities brought an economic impact of an estimated $56.6 million to local restaurants, bars, hotels, parking lots, and other city venues, from July 2022 through June 2023 – setting a record-breaking gross economic impact in the MassMutual Center’s history.  In addition, there were approximately 441,000 people that visited Springfield, attending the numerous world renowned shows and events downtown including Bruno Mars, Kevin Hart, Bill Barr, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Santana, Chicago, Gladys Knight, Boys to Men, Disney on Ice, Red Sox Winter Weekend, Western Mass Ironman 70.3, USA Gymnastics Regional Championships, New England Regional Pop Warner Cheerleading Championships, New England Regional Volleyball Association, the Harlem Globetrotters and our beloved Springfield Thunderbirds and AIC YellowJackets, just to name a few.”    

The casino will mark this anniversary with a celebration at the Springfield Marriott on Thursday.

Local News

Melissa Torres is a reporter who has been a part of the 22News team since 2021. Follow Melissa on X @melissatorrestv and view her bio to see more of her work.