Massachusetts MGM Springfield Upgraded to $960 Million Resort, Northampton Gets Promotional Grant

Posted on: September 29, 2017, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: September 29, 2017, 09:35h.

The MGM Springfield in Massachusetts will cost $10 million more than previously expected, as officials revealed that the price tag for the integrated resort will now total $960 million.

MGM Springfield casino Massachusetts
The soon-to-be-unveiled MGM Springfield will mix the old with the new, but preserving history comes at a cost. (Image: MGM Resorts)

Springfield officials accepted updated design documents from MGM on Thursday, which brings the conception process to 95 percent completion. The latest plans cover everything from exterior lighting fixtures to designated smoking areas, local news site The Republican reported.

The city’s local bureaucrats like what they see.

“We drove a tough bargain here in the city,” Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno (D) told the press. “We’re very pleased with the design. They’re going to put across a first-class establishment.”

Sarno said the complex will be “industrial chic.” MGM is preserving what it can in the South End, including the historic First Spiritualist Church and the State Armory building.

Much of the casino site is being built on ground that was severely impacted by a tornado in 2011. Many buildings were damaged beyond repair during that violent June storm.

Bucking Back

The latest MGM property won’t open until the fall of 2018, but communities surrounding Springfield are already getting their pound of flesh from the casino resort.

Though Northampton’s request for inclusion in the Surrounding Communities Agreement wasn’t accepted three years ago, the small town, located roughly 20 miles north of Springfield proper, did receive a $100,000 grant this week from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). The money will be used to market Northampton as a nearby destination for resort guests who want to experience a small-town Massachusetts vibe.

A fiscal study commissioned by Northampton found that the town stands to lose between $4.4 million and $8.8 million each year, due to reduced economic activity caused by tourists picking the MGM Springfield’s gambling delights over the more sedate historical charms of a town that dates back to 1653.

Hush Money

Under Massachusetts’ 2011 Expanded Gaming Act, the state’s three resort casinos and slots parlor must enter into compacts with nearby towns that might be impacted by the addition of a commercial gambling venue.

The casinos are required to offset the economic effect of their presence by providing “resources” to local communities. That’s of course jargon for “here’s some money, now leave us alone.”

Under its Surrounding Community Agreement, the City of Chicopee, the nearest town north of Springfield, is guaranteed to receive $850,000 annually from MGM. But at 20 miles north, the MGC didn’t deem Northampton a “surrounding community.”

The $100,000 grant will come out of the Community Mitigation Fund, which is subsidized through revenue generated from the issuing of gaming licenses. MGM paid $85 million for its license, as did Wynn Resorts for its property four miles outside of Boston, the Wynn Boston Harbor, which is scheduled to open in 2019.