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August 24, 2018

MGM opens in 'revived' downtown Springfield

Photo | Courtesy MGM Springfield has been readying for an Aug. 24 opening, when it will become the state's first full-service casino.

MGM has returned to New England, opening its sprawling $960 million casino and entertainment complex in Springfield late Friday morning. 

Guests will begin filing into the casino at 11 a.m. Friday, hours after MGM executives, employees and community members gathered Thursday evening for a pre-opening event. Actor Mark Wahlberg joined the celebration to announce Wahlburgers restaurant will open there in 2019. 

MGM said it has "revived" three buildings downtown, melding new construction with historic architecture across three blocks on Main Street.

Massachusetts' first casino is expected to take revenue and talent away from Connecticut's Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun. To curb MGM traffic, Connecticut's two federally recognized tribes are collaborating on a proposed $300 million satellite casino in East Windsor. The joint tribal gaming partnership is the country's first, Foxwoods officials said. 

MGM has said it plans to invest approximately $100 million in annual payroll and benefits, with average salaries of more than $40,000 for about 3,000 people. It marks the city's largest-ever hiring effort and the largest private investment in western Massachusetts' history.

MGM will hire 35 percent of its workforce from Springfield and 90 percent from a combination of the city and the region. 

The casino features a 125-square-foot gaming room, a six-story, 252-room hotel, a spa, numerous retail and dining options, a luxury cinema and 10-lane bowling alley. An outdoor plaza will become the "anchor of community spirit" in Springfield, officials said, with year-round offerings including beer yoga, beer garden events and pop-up art galleries. 

Its gaming floor has about 2,550 slot machines, 120 gaming tables, a poker room and other for high-stakes gambling. The casino also has a wide variety of dining options, including an Italian restaurant, steakhouse, sports bars and a fast-casual marketplace, among others.

The region's first Topgolf Swing Suite is also set to open with golf simulators spanning within a 2,200-square-foot area. Western Mass News will broadcast select news of the day at a studio on the plaza floor.

MGM also has 34,000 square feet of convention and meeting space and numerous national and regional retail shops. Nearby, MGM will use the 8,000-seat MassMutual Center for concerts, sporting events and conferences.

MGM returns to New England after it ended operations at Foxwoods in 2013. The Mashantucket casino leased the MGM Grand brand for its new $700 building in 2008 before the partnership dissolved in 2013. Foxwoods renamed the building as The Fox Tower as part of a rebranding effort to challenge new competition across the region.

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