MGM pitches design changes to the Gaming Commission

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) –  MGM still needs to convince the state Gaming Commission and Springfield’s City Council to approve their design changes. 22News was in Springfield as MGM tried to clear that first hurdle.

Springfield’s mayor has already signed off on MGM’s design changes.  After Thursday, the Gaming Commission may also be on board.

MGM Springfield needs the state Gaming Commission to sign off on their design changes.  MGM detailed those changes at a meeting in Springfield.  The commission still has some questions, but seemed to warm up to this new concept.

“Change can be difficult, but at the end of the day we’re going to be proud of this new design and what we’re going to deliver,” said MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis.

That new design gets rid of the 25 story glass tower hotel, replacing it with a six-story hotel on Main Street. It also reduces the size of the project by about 10 percent, most of which is space you and I would have never seen. With these changes and some delays, MGM will be spending more money.

MGM originally estimated it would spend $397 million on building, construction and design.  That’s now up to $495 million.

The state requires MGM to spend at least $500 million on the project itself, or eligible costs.  Their spending will now increase from $536 million to $614 million.

The original total budget for the project was an estimated $800 million.  Now MGM plans to spend between $951 and $972 million.

MGM told the Gaming Commission, if they kept the glass tower their budget would be more than $1 Billion.  That glass tower still a sticking point for the President of Springfield’s City Council.

(Is this glass tower a hurdle that both the city council and MGM will be able to overcome?)

“I think it’s possible, I’m hopeful that we get there, but if we are to get to that point MGM has to put some more skin in the game,” said Springfield City Council President Michael Fenton.

Fenton told the Commission he wants MGM to compromise by improving its deal with the city.  Currently, the city will get about $25 million a year from MGM once the casino opens.   MGM Springfield’s President thinks the tower will soon be a non-issue.

“People are split on it, I understand the appeal of the tower, I’m convinced if we originally promoted this design there wouldn’t be any discussion, and if we wanted to put in a tower, we’d hear the same opposition,” said Mathis.

The first of four city council votes MGM needs to move forward could happen in December.  The Gaming Commission likely won’t vote on these changes until early next year.

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