Hampden petitions gaming commission

Artist's rendering of the proposed MGM Springfield casino, including the now-abandoned plan for a 25-story glass tower on State Street. The elimination of the glass tower is part of what the city council has to vote on.

HAMPDEN, Mass. (WWLP) – Monday is the deadline to file a petition with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to possibly become a “surrounding community,” and therefore be eligible to receive payments from a casino company.

MGM has already designated Ludlow, Wilbraham, East Longmeadow, Agawam, Chicopee, West Springfield and now Holyoke as surrounding communities.  That means those towns are guaranteed a payment from MGM.

Longmeadow, Northampton and Hampden all filed petitions with the gaming commission.

“If you look at MGM as being a center of a hub, you have the spoke being East Longmeadow being represented, the spoke that is Wilbraham being represented, but why isn’t our wedge, the wedge of Hampden also in the mix as well”, says Hampden Select Board Chairman John Flynn.

Where MGM wants to build in Springfield’s South End, it’s much closer to West Springfield and Longmeadow than some of the other towns it has already agreed to deals with.  MGM designated West Springfield a surrounding community after it handed in its application.  Longmeadow will likely have to state its case in front of the gaming commission.  See Longmeadow’s petition here

Hampden and Northampton which do not border Springfield also have to prove they deserve some money.
Hampden’s case centers along Allen Street which turns into Sumner Avenue and leads into Springfield’s South End.

“I truly believe that we are going to get more traffic on Allen Street than we already have now because it’s going to be a constant flow and probably in the middle of the night where it’s going to be a lot more busier because people love to play cards at night”, says Hampden Select board member Vincent Villamaino.

MGM sent this statement to 22News:
“MGM Springfield’s goal in talking with neighboring communities has been to get the best result for the region so Western Massachusetts can regain its urban core. We have had fair and transparent discussions with these communities to ensure they are protected against any potential adverse impacts. We are pleased with the outcomes to date, and are confident that our approach will be well received during the next stage of the surrounding communities process.”  Mike Mathis, VP Global Gaming Development MGM Resorts International 

Northampton, which does not share a border with Springfield, filed a petition with the Gaming Commission already.

Hampden, which is near Springfield but also does not share a land or water border, has confirmed they mailed their petition to the gaming commission on Friday.  The 22News I-Team received a copy of their letter sent to the gaming commission. Hampden believes that significant traffic to and from Springfield will travel through Hampden, therefore having a “significant adverse impact on the highway infrastructure of the Town.”  Specifically the letter states that Allen Street would be the route of choice to the casino from communities like Somers or Stafford Springs, Connecticut.

Three other communities that do not share borders with Springfield; Westfield, Easthampton and South Hadley; have told 22News they do not plan to file a petition.

Below is a timeline of the next steps in the process to become a surrounding community:

  • January 28: The Gaming Commission will see potential presentations by the surrounding community and MGM.
  • February 6: The Commission makes a decision on surrounding community petitions. If towns are designated, then negotiations will continue.
  • March 11: Arbitration begins.
  • April 14: Final agreements are due.

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