Springfield holds public casino forum - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Springfield holds public casino forum

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Hundreds of Springfield residents filled City Stage to hear two casino developers interested in the city reveal their plans.

MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming are both vying for a downtown casino in the city.

The two developers talked logistics like traffic and jobs, and they even answered dozens of questions by interested residents.

But one theme they both kept coming back to was their hope of revitalizing the city.

Music, gaming, glamour - Springfield residents saw it all as the two further revealed their plans for their downtown casino proposals.

The open forum started with 45-minute presentations by each of the two developers.

Penn National showcased their North End casino proposal, revealing they now have the 13 acres needed should they get the casino license.

Their plans include taking over Peter Pan bus lines, The Republican newspaper property and linking up with the Union Station which is slated for renovation, in all creating 2,500 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent casino related jobs.

Penn National says their plans will create a "Springfield renaissance."

"One of the most important reasons we chose Springfield is it really is in the sweet spot of what our company does in terms of urban renewal," said Eric Schippers, senior vice president of government relations for Penn National.

MGM followed up with plans for their South End casino proposal, taking the audience on a virtual inside tour of their planned casino - a 14-acre development that would tie in the Massmutual center and historic landmarks like the old Armory building.

"We wanted to maintain what we could as much of what we could basically speak to it so we could invigorate not only our site but all things that surrounded it," said Bill Hornbuckle, president of MGM.

After the presentations, residents could ask these top casino officials their questions.

Some left happy but wanting more time to ask their questions.

"I wish there was a second part to it because I have questions in terms of how the North End will play a role in this and our residents," said Ivette Hernandez, Springfield.

"What I'd really like to see is serious long term investments in early childhood education so we can get the value of the casino over time and get kids off on the right foot," said City Council member Tim Allen .

But both casino developers told residents their main mission is to be a part of the city's revitalization.  

"This is an experience that will invigorate, we hope, energize your city that you have every right to be proud of and we're just trying to be helpful there," said Jim Murren, CEO of MGM. 

Both of these developers must apply and submit their $400,000 applications to the state gaming commission by Jan. 3.

Penn National reps say they will hold a red carpet gala on Dec. 20 to showcase more of their plans.

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