SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – MGM Springfield reached a major milestone in its construction Wednesday morning. The final steel structure of the resort-style casino was lowered into place in a “topping off” ceremony.
“A beacon of hope, opportunity, for people, for employment and economic development,” described Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.
City leaders, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, local contractors, and MGM executives gathered as construction workers placed the final curved steel beam atop what will be the hotel rotunda along Main Street. It was described as a symbol of progress for the city. Ironworkers stood on the top floor of the hotel to watch the final piece set into place as U2’s “Beautiful Day” played.
The topping off ceremony focused on MGM’s commitment to hiring local workers from diverse backgrounds to build the state’s first resort-style casino.
“I actually grew up in the city of Springfield, right here in the South End and you know what’s funny is I walk around this construction site and I see a lot of the guys I grew up with working here,” said Fiore Grassetti, Business Agent for Ironworkers Local 7. Grassetti nodded to the old armory building which will now become a speakeasy or nightclub on MGM property, saying its former role as the South End Community Center saved him from getting into trouble and helping him have the career he has now.
Two teams of father and daughter construction workers were singled out of the crowd at the ceremony. More than 1,100 construction workers have been hired by MGM and 1,000 more are expected to be hired to finish construction.
Before the steal beam was hoisted, it was signed by construction workers and dignitaries. It was also decorated with an American Flag and a symbolic tree, which is a construction tradition that signifies a building has reached its final height.
MGM Springfield’s design is unique to all of MGM International. An example of that is the hotel being located right on Main Street. MGM wants to incorporate the whole city of Springfield into its design and encourage visitors to leave the gaming floor and explore other parts of the city. There will be entrances to the casino from Main Street for that reason. MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis said they’ve never done something like this before. Typically, a casino is a tall, standalone structure separate from a city and without easy access to a downtown.
The nearly 1 billion dollar casino is still on schedule to open in September of 2018.
“You’ll see some of the plastic screen that’s enclosed the building come off and then we’ll start cladding it and you’ll really feel what the building’s going to look like from the outside and then it will probably almost go quiet because then all the work will be inside,” Mathis told 22News.
The buildings are expected to be fully enclosed by this fall, while the parking garage is expected to be completed early next year.
Despite competition in nearby Connecticut from Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, as well as their proposed joint casino in East Windsor, MGM expects to attract some 8 million visitors each year through its name, monthly entertainment acts, gaming and dining and retail options.