MGM Resorts International has announced that they are going to begin construction on their Springfield, Massachusetts casino this week. Despite acquiring the gambling license to build this casino-hotel almost two years ago, MGM has not been able to begin construction for a plethora of reasons; now with all the necessary permits is place, they plan on ploughing ahead with the project.
Expanded Gaming Act
The Springfield casino acquired their gaming license, almost two years ago, after Governor Deval Patrick signed the Chapter 194 “An Act Establishing Expanded Gaming in the Commonwealth,” into law, on the 22nd of November 2011. The act allowed for a maximum of three casino resorts to be constructed, dispersed across the Commonwealth area; and one single slot facility also to be newly built, which was awarded to Penn National Gaming on the 28th of February 2014. The new facilities are expected to primarily boost tourism in the area and create thousands of permanent jobs for the local residents; on top of generating $300 to $500 million in new revenue for the Commonwealth.
MGM Resorts broke ground on the downtown Springfield property on the 22nd of March 2015 but were still waiting on approvals for tearing down a historic structure, the 129 year old church, located on the site, before they can begin further construction work.
Relocating the Church
MGM did not get the approval to demolish the 129 year old, First Spiritualist Church, as it had been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983. However, it was announced earlier this year, in April that they MGM Resorts was given permission to relocate the structure 200 yards aside. According to the designs, the casino gaming floor was meant to be built exactly where the church had been standing. The building that weighs 475 tonnes took several weeks of delicate work to lift off its old foundation and onto wheels for the relocation; the 200 yard repositioning, which came with an $800,000 price tag, took about three full days to complete.
Change of Plans
The MGM Resorts Springfield is the largest economic development project the region has seen in generations. The casino hotel complex will be the first Las Vegas-style casinos for the state of Massachusetts, which does not have any large gaming establishments of that nature.
The MGM Springfield, was originally estimated cost $800 million and designed to contain 3,000 slot machines, 75 table games, 250 hotel rooms and other amenities.
However due to stacking expenses, MGM Resorts decided to revise their plans and redesign the casino-hotel property; both Springfield and the state needed to reassess the new plans. Finally, last week, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved the new design and issue permission for the construction to begin.
The plans approved by the Gaming Commission include the casino gaming floor, a six-story, 250 room hotel, a 3,400 space parking garage and additional space for amenities such as restaurants, a bowling alley, a movie theatre and an outdoor plaza, which is to house an ice skating rink over the winter months. The new estimate for the project stands at $950 million.
The main changed to the design include a reduction in the project size by 123,000 square feet, which also translates to 14 per cent of overall size, to 759,000 square feet, over two city blocks.
The hotel has eliminated the 25 story glass façade tower from the plans and replaced it with a six storey one; but still plan to have the same number of rooms, 250. MGM have also removed plans to construct 54 luxury apartments from the complex; they now plan on building 54, significantly less expensive, apartments off-site, instead.
The city officials have expressed great dissatisfaction toward the removal of the tower from the plans, especially since the hotel tower would have provided the first big change to Springfield’s skyline in a long time.
Construction crew have cleared a 14 acre area in preparation for building the parking garage. Foundation work on the structure has begun this week; when completed, the garage will work on seven levels and offer 3,400 parking spaces.
The garage is expected to be completed in about 20 months, while the rest of the project – the casino, hotel and entertainment complex is expected to open to the public by late 2018.