Hard Rock, West Springfield mayor sign host community agreement - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hard Rock, West Springfield mayor sign host community agreement

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

West Springfield Mayor Gregory Neffinger has signed the host community agreement with Hard Rock.

In the agreement, Hard Rock will pay West Springfield $18 million a year once the casino is built for things like police, fire, public works and community investments.

"We've come up with an agreement that we feel very proud that will be a benefit to the city of West Springfield," Neffinger said at a press conference Thursday evening.

Neffinger signed a deal with Hard Rock reps Thursday afternoon that will pull $26 million into the community every year if Hard Rock gets the casino license.

"We expect the economic benefit to circle through the community and benefit every one of the residents as well as the community," said Tim Maland, president of Hard Rock New England.

Some of the biggest concerns CBS 3 has heard from West Springfield residents are traffic and crime.

Hard Rock is paying an up-front cost of more than $41 million.

  • $35 million will be going to traffic concerns and public roadways.
  • $4 million will go directly to police, fire and EMS, with the likelihood of a police substation connected to the casino.

The mayor says he thinks he got the best deal for the residents.

"Our consultants who have worked on many other casinos agree that the numbers that we were getting from Hard Rock were legitimate numbers," he said.

  • The police and fire departments will get $1.5 million a year and so will investments in the community like schools and parks.
  • $3 million a year will go directly to surrounding towns including Springfield, Agawam, Holyoke, Chicopee and Westfield.
  • Hard Rock pledges to make an effort to spend $50 million a year on local goods and services.

But before the process could proceed, town councilors wanted to have the host agreement in their hands.

"We were assured on Wednesday that we would have the host agreement in our possession in the council office, we didn't see it," said Town Councilor Brian Griffin.

A Town Council meeting was briefly interrupted Thursday night, but ultimately the council moved the process forward and is expecting a Sept. 10 vote.

"I know all of the councilors, our whole thing is doing what's best for the community and what's best for the community in this instance is for them to have the right to vote," said Town Council President Kathleen Bourque.

Now that councilors have copies of the host agreement, they will review it and also plan on having public hearings on it as well. CBS 3 will keep you updated on when those meetings will happen.

Hard Rock is proposing an $800 million resort casino on the Big E fairgrounds.

They are competing against Mohegan Sun in Palmer and MGM in Springfield for the sole Western Mass casino license.

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