MGM Springfield Makes a Big Splash
It’s taken what feels like forever, but it was back in 2011 that MGM began getting serious about building a casino in downtown Springfield. I remember the votes, and how Holyoke flirted with the casino on Mount Tom notion, and when it was all done, just giant MGM Springfield still stood. Some of their competitors actually bought and sold parcels of land that were bought with the idea of building a casino.
Throughout the process, debated endlessly in the media, the big idea of building something so integrated into a city seemed strange. The most successful casinos, the Native-American run Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, are located way out in the boondocks. No cities near them nothing except the endless parking garages and the garish buildings.
But this is so different. It’s right across from a barbershop, a hairdresser, and a vacant space, right smack downtown. For the opening morning, last Friday at 11 am, a parade was assembled that was touching.
It was the Ironworkers who did the steel, the union carpenters who worked on the inside, and the many other tradesmen holding signs showing their unions and smiling. Hundreds of MGM’s employees marched, and they shouted “EM GEE EM,” with gusto, as they paraded to their first day of work.
The crowd was huge and diverse, many many of the people in line were Hispanic and black. Others sported shirts with logos of other casinos, looking to see what MGM would bring compared to their regular Foxwoods or Mohegan experience. It was clear that this new casino was up to par with those others, it’s not a dinky operation like you sometimes see in these smaller markets.
A friend asked me what it was like. My answer is that nearly all casinos feel the same–the constant tinkling of the slot machines, the serious-looking security guards with earpieces, the frenzy of people who are looking to win.
It felt that same way as I did in Las Vegas, but now, I was only about 45 minutes from my house.