Does the Lion need a bigger Den?

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I love the casino resort experience.  The first time I realized this I was consuming a delicious room service Reuben sandwich and French fries in my suite after an evening gaming session.  I would never do this at home I thought to myself. In fact I wouldn’t have done most anything I did today at home. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I like being whisked away by the adult amusement park that is today’s modern casino resort.

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This tower would have been amazing.

Numbers always interest me in one way or another. There is an absolute truth in math that is comforting. When MGM announced their plan included a 25 story glass tower hotel to be built into their casino project I was excited. Then to learn within the same complex their would be over 50 market rate apartments and condominiums. That made MGM my choice in casino organizations coming to town.   The plan seemed to fit with what the top casinos on the East Coast had or were building. It was my opinion that something like that would attract a lot of new tourists to our area. My friend Chris Marion said “ At first he thought it would be like a lighthouse bringing people in”. I am still in agreement with that early sentiment. However as you learn in our podcast Chris and I have different opinions of the final hotel at the property at MGM Springfield.

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in this rendering you can see the market rate housing where the hotel now stands.

When the announcement came on September 23, 2015 that the plans have changed for MGM from the 25 story glass tower to the 6 story hotel that stands today a small part of my hope was crushed back to normal Springfield life expectations. A lot of things ran through my head about why. Did the group already have a shift in target? Had plans changed? Did the announcement of the tribes joining forces gaining state support for a change in tribal gaming laws in Connecticut?  Did costs skyrocket?  Whatever the reason their decision stuck. I’m glad that what they did produce is a beautiful boutique hotel with 255 rooms 16 suites a chic hotel lobby .

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Perhaps it’s a larger investment in Springfield to leave the demand so that local developers and entrepreneur’s have a space to create new properties and new revenues to Springfield.  One thing I would like to point out is that in the beginning when MGM and Penn national were competing for Springfield we were promised a 25 story glass hotel tower with hundreds of rooms and 54 market rate apartments and condos. Neither of these are present in our market today.

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So where do we go from here. Hopefully MGM continues on their promises and develops the Court Square Hotel property into the 54 market rate units. Or perhaps Main Street Hospitality the group who operates the Red Lion Inn in Great Barrington would like to purchase and develop that property. Or more likely a hybrid of the two which I think would work out well.  Having both projects together would certainly create more development opportunity for ancillary retail and food options.

I think it’s terrific that we’re seeing new hotel developments  We just had the Holiday Inn Express open with 98 rooms on lower State street a block from MGM.  The development of the new Home 2 Suites with Hilton on Park Street. This property will have 100 rooms and suites valet parking and a swimming pool. Not too shabby for downtown south end Springfield. Also the Tower Square hotel after it’s 265 rooms and two restaurants are renovated Marriott has expressed interest in flying their flags at that property.

Which brings me to my closing thought in today’s blog. I’m happy I have these topics to discuss with all of you. It sure beats what we used to talk about pre casino days in Springfield.  No matter what is said I believe the $960 million that MGM Resorts Global has poured into downtown Springfield is nothing but positive for our area today. The positive gentrification that we are experiencing downtown is measurable. The excitement and energy around the Pioneer Valley is almost electric. The fact that 35% of the employees are Springfield residents. We now have close to 3000 people back to work right here in Springfield. That alone is positive. A lot of new entertainment and fun things on the horizon. I feel like all in all MGM Springfield is making a big difference in our community.

Now if only someone just build me a tall shiny glittery tower with big suites and throw me a comp so I can feel like a big shot once in a while?  Thanks for reading and as always Great Luck Players!

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