Longmeadow, Hampden, Northampton make cases on casino impact

BOSTON (WWLP) - With millions of dollars potentially on the line, three communities make their case why MGM should pay them.

22News was in Boston Tuesday as the gaming commission heard both sides.

After more than three hours of debate, the gaming commission must now pick winners and losers.

MGM has designated seven towns and cities, surrounding communities (Agawam, Chicopee, West Springfield, Holyoke, East Longmeadow, Wilbraham and Ludlow).  That guarantees, at the least, an average annual payment of $100,000 for 15 years.  Longmeadow, Hampden and Northampton don’t want to be left out.

“We want to have this designation so we can sit down about what are the ways that we can protect ourselves, so that they can have success and we can continue to have success”, says Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz.

Town and city leaders and lawyers tried to convince the gaming commission that MGM’s Springfield casino would have a negative impact on their communities.

“I think we made a very compelling case that we are a surrounding community by virtue of proximity, traffic impacts”, says Longmeadow Town Manager Stephen Crane.

“We live in town, we grew up in town, we know what Hampden is like we know what the traffic like”, says Hampden Select Board Chairman John Flynn.

Those three towns are seeking surrounding community agreements, while the Eastern States Exposition and the Majestic Theater in West Springfield are hoping to be designated an impacted live entertainment venue.

“That MGM can take the position that we’re not surprises me that they can say it with a straight face”, says Eastern States Exposition CEO and President Eugene Cassidy.

MGM called the “Big E” a big business that doesn’t need its help.

MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis on Northampton; “What we’re bringing to downtown Springfield is going to be an urban entertainment destination, it won’t be a small town environment, so we think they complement each other.”

Hampden: “I heard for the first time today that they don’t have a traffic light, in their entire town, which is amazing, but that is not a major cut through.”

“I think their position is when there’s problems on 91 that Longmeadow is a cut through, that may be the case, but our position is that’s the case now.”

It’s up to the gaming commission now, they’re expected to decide on February 6th.

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