Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno announced Monday that the city will move forward with negotiations for casino host community agreements with both MGM Resorts International and Penn National Gaming by way of local affiliate companies.
Blue Tarp ReDevelopment, LLC, an affiliate of MGM Resorts International and Springfield Gaming and Redevelopment, LLC, a joint venture between an affiliate of Penn National Gaming and an affiliate of Peter Picknelly will both continue negotiations with the city for plans to build resort casinos within city limits.
"After careful review and consideration of the proposals submitted by MGM and Penn JV in response to the city's phase two request for qualifications and request for proposals, I have decided that both proposals have qualified to proceed to this next step in the selection process," said Sarno.
Sarno expects negotiations to begin soon, but notes that those negotiations will not guarantee that the city will reach a successful agreement with either developer. Any agreement would require the approval of the city council as well as a public referendum before that agreement would be passed along to the state's gaming commission for consideration.
Sarno's decision was made in conjunction with his advisory committee, an internal review committee and outside consultants.
"We went through every issue from A to Z and while I would say that there are pluses and minuses that come with each, they are both very good proposals," said Springfield's Chief Development Officer, Kevin Kennedy.
In a statement to CBS 3 Penn National Gaming's President and Chief Operating Officer, Tim Wilmott said "We are looking forward to our upcoming conversations with Mayor Sarno and his team. We are confident that we can reach an agreement that will create the optimal conditions for our project to be a catalyst for a city-wide economic revitalization."
And MGM's VP of Global Gaming Development, Michael Mathis told CBS 3, "We're very excited and thankful to Mayor Sarno and his team for the confidence they have placed in MGM Resorts to allow us to advance to the next stage. We believe a partnership between the city and MGM resorts would create the strongest competitive edge from Springfield to win the race for a Western Mass casino license."
Kennedy says this phase of the casino process is expected to take 6 to 8 weeks. He also told media Monday that he thinks it's ideal to only present one Springfield casino proposal to the state's gaming commission when it gets to that point.
"If there is a proposal from West Springfield, if there is a proposal from Palmer, are we better off sending one or two from Springfield? I would submit to you that if the case is that they are going to do one round of voting and the commissioners are going to cast a ballot for each Springfield will be in a stronger position with one candidate rather than two,' said Kennedy.
The decision whether one or both proposals continue to move forward in the city's process is up to Mayor Sarno. Before any proposal can go before the state's gaming commission it has to be approved by both city voters and the city council.
Under the state's casino law, only one casino may be built in western Massachusetts. Penn National Gaming has proposed an $807 million "Hollywood Casino" project for the city's north end. MGM Resorts International is planning an $800 million "MGM Springfield" casino for the city's south end.
In addition, Hard Rock International is in talks to place a casino at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield while Mohegan Sun has a plan for a casino resort in Palmer.
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