MGM outlines construction schedule ahead of March 24 groundbreaking for Springfield casino

Industries Associated Press

MGM outlined its construction schedule for an $800 million resort casino in Springfield on Thursday, starting with a March 24 groundbreaking.

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At a rare Springfield meeting for the state Gaming Commission, officials for the Las Vegas-based casino company said they expect basic site preparation activities will follow soon after the formal groundbreaking.

That includes demolition of existing buildings, upgrades to utility and sewer lines and initial foundation work for the complex, which will cover some 14.5 acres straddling the downtown and South End, according documents the company submitted to regulators.

"This is where people really get to realize what we're going to do," MGM Springfield President Michael Mathis said. "This is where we go from promises made to promises kept."

MGM hopes to open the casino in late 2017, putting it on track to become Massachusetts's first Las Vegas-style casino since lawmakers opened the door to the industry in 2011.

Wynn Resorts is also developing a $1.7 billion casino in the Boston suburb of Everett and is also aiming for a 2017 opening.

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Penn National Gaming is set to open the state's first casino this summer: a $225 million slot parlor at the harness racing facility in Plainville, a town in southeastern Massachusetts.

MGM's planned casino will have 3,000 slot machines and 75 gambling tables and a 250-room hotel. It will also include shops, restaurants, meeting and office space, residential apartments, a bowling alley and a cinema.

The project is expected to create at least 2,000 temporary construction jobs and about 3,000 casino jobs when it opens.

MGM has already made a number of critical financial payments, including an $85 million state licensing fee, over $1 million in payments to Springfield and about $1.75 million to surrounding communities, Mathis said Thursday.

Under host community agreement with Springfield, the casino company is expected to pay the city at least $17.6 million annually.

Mathis said MGM has also closed on the purchase of some $50 million worth of real estate needed for the development.

He also introduced some of the new faces on the casino's local team, including Brian Packer, a veteran of MGM's other major casino developments, who will be overseeing construction.