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(NECN: Brian Burnell, Springfield, Mass.) - Springfield, Mass. Mayor Domenic Sarno announced the city has negotiated a host community agreement with MGM Resorts International, which wants to build an $800 million resort casino in the city's south end.
The mayor says he chose MGM over a rival bid by Penn National Gaming. MGM's plan provides 2,000 construction jobs, 3,000 permanent jobs and agreements to use local businesses and attractions. The mayor also emphasized impact fees to be paid to the city.
"Up front payments of nearly $15 million," he says. "Anticipated $25 million annually."
Peter Picknelly is the CEO of Peter Pan Bus Lines and a major investor in the Penn National project.
"Obviously disappointed, but I think the process that our mayor had was very fair and it was very transparent and the mayor needs to do what he thinks is best for his city," Picknelly says.
The city's development officer, Kevin Kennedy, said this project is not the only economic redevelopment effort in Springfield.
"We are still going to do Union Station. We are still going to do Indian Motorcycle. We are still going to re-do Boston Road out by the Eastfield Mall. We are still going to rebuild schools," Kennedy says. "Outside of the casino, we are talking about in excess of $300-million of activity, so Springfield is not putting all its eggs in the casino basket."
There are those in town who feel that is a dangerous basket.
Claribell Encarnacion, a Springfield resident, says, "It worries me because people going to get addicted to it, we don't have no money, we in a crisis right now. People do not have money. That's an addiction. Gambling is an addiction."
This does not mean its over. There are two other casino proposals still out there, including one across the river in West Springfield from The Hard Rock café, and other over in Palmer by the people who run Mohegan Sun.