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Struggling Massachusetts city can get boost from new casino



MGM Springfield Casino fits into the historic streetscape of Springfield


Written by The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts – Standing on Main Street, the nearly $ 1 billion resort casino, designed to trigger a renaissance in the city center, does not instantly bring the glamor of Las Vegas to life. There is no neon-lit billboard, no towering tower of glass and steel

Instead, two modest signs with the MGM initials in front of a backdrop of low brick and stone facades, which mix with the historical – not dominate the streetscape of this traditional city in New England

"That's what we're most proud of," said company president Bill Hornbuckle before casino owner The Associated Press gave an insight into the property shortly before its completion this summer. "We have not just set up a big, ugly box in the middle of downtown."

About three years after the breakthrough, MGM Springfield opened the first resort casino in Massachusetts last week.

The state currently houses a modest slot salon south of Boston.

The MGM project is the latest test case for whether casinos can boost the revival in America's forgotten corners. It also renews the debate over whether the Northeast is already saturated with gambling options.

The 1

4-acre play, hotel and entertainment complex is at the heart of Springfield's recent investment wave, located about 90 miles west of Boston, with high levels of poverty and unemployment

A new museum dedicated to the Hometown heroes Theodor "Dr. Seuss" hostage, was put into operation this year in a restored Union Station and a Chinese manufacturer is raging from a new factory disembark.

"We have become something much more than we have," said Kevin Kennedy, the city's chief development officer. "The casino has been a catalyst for many of these things."

Live up to speak?

But it's an open question as to whether the casino can meet its high financial promise, including hundreds of millions of tax revenues for the state, some industry observers say. Overall, gambling revenues could be 10 to 12 percent lower than the $ 500 million forecasted four years ago, based on how regional casinos are currently evolving, said Paul DeBole, a political scientist at Lasell College in Newton, Mass. [19659004] A cautionary tale is in the back country of New York, where some casinos that opened with similar promises of economic revival were below average. At least two are already seeking a government bailout.

"There is no question that the glamor of casino gaming is declining as it becomes a common commodity," said Clyde Barrow, Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas-Rio Grande (19659004) "The challenge of keeping the visitors "It will only increase as new entrants join the fight," added Richard McGowan, an economics professor at Boston College.

Wynn Resorts is said to make a conspicuous $ 2 billion investment in the Boston area next year, and the Indian tribes, which own Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, propose a third Connecticut casino just across the border from MGM Springfield.

MGM officials did not respond immediately, but Hornbuckle said in a previous interview that Springfield Casino reflects new tastes.

The playing field has more of the table games like blackjack and roulette favored by younger patrons and fewer slot machines t originally planned

More than gambling

The casino also doubles the entertainment and brings a movie theater and a bowling alley to the city center, without these amenities, big musical acts promises for the nearby arena (Stevie Wonder is among the early acts) and seasonal events like farmers markets and ice skating for its outdoor space.

And MGM Springfields unusual design involving old downtown buildings and facades is supposed to make it different and encourage downtown exploration.

A The castle-like arsenal building was reborn as the centerpiece of the casino's outskirts, while a historic brick church was uprooted and moved a few hundred yards to serve as another anchorage and retail space.

Vintage artifacts and curios inside the casino recall Springfield's industrial and literary roots

Hotel rooms are adorned with quotes from Emily Dickinson, the Victorian poet who lived nearby. Founded in 1965 by Merriam-Webster, the The Casino Sports Bar is characterized by Springfield's basketball cred (the sport was invented there and hosts the Basketball Hall of Fame) the city's contributions to turn-of-the-century innovations such as stock ticker and phonograph.

"The product speaks for itself," said Hornbuckle. It's engaging, it respects history, people are very proud of Springfield, and I think that's going to happen. "


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