SPRINGFIELD – Amid a festive atmosphere that included costumed Cirqe Du Soleil performers mingling in the crowd of civic and business leaders, MGM Resorts International today held what its chief executive called its’ “coming out party’’ for its $800 million casino plan.
“We’ve been in listening mode,’’ Jim Murren, chief executive of the casino company told the Globe today. “Today is our coming out party.’’
Murren said his staff has spent recent weeks meeting with community leaders around the Western Massachusetts city and used what they learned during those conversations to help develop their $800 million plan.
“We’ve spent several months listening. We sat in lot of coffee houses and have gone to a lot of clambakes,’’ Murren said in the Globe interview. “This is our response to a lot of the feedback that we’ve received.’’
MGM today set up an elaborate display at the MassMutual Center with music, video displays showing the planned development and images of MGM’s other properties, including the upscale Bellagio and Mandalay Bay and the quirky theme hotels Luxor and New York-New York.
The Globe reported today that under the plan, MGM wants to build a gambling resort, entertainment complex, and housing development in downtown Springfield and in the process rebuild areas of the city severely damaged by a 2011 tornado.
The MGM project would be the first casino proposal in Massachusetts in a distinctly downtown urban setting. A project of such a scale in Springfield, a city that has struggled financially and coped with high unemployment, would make MGM a legitimate contender for the sole casino license created for Western Massachusetts.
However, other companies are also seeking the license from the Massachusetts Gambling Commission including three others in Springfield and one in Palmer.
In a statement today, the commission said it has received MGM’s $400,000 application fee for the right to the resort-casino license being made available for Western Massachusetts. MGM joins Suffolk Downs, which wants the resort-casino license for greater Boston and the Plainridge Racecourse, which is seeking the slots-parlor license for the southeast corner of the state, in paying the $400,000 application fee, the commission said.
The MGM plan mixes new construction and the renovation of some existing architecture over three city blocks, covering about 10 acres, in the city’s South End. The development area is between Union and State streets, and Columbus Avenue and Main Street, about two blocks from Springfield City Hall. It is adjacent to Interstate 91, a major north-south artery through Western Massachusetts.