As more details emerge courtesy of Mass Live, the full extent of the MGM Springfield project is starting to come into focus.
Far from being another casino, the project seems to be following in the footsteps of another famous Massachusetts landmark, Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place.
Patriot Place is the shopping and entertainment center that surrounds Gillette Stadium, the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots. It has transformed the landscape of Foxboro, Massachusetts.
How Robert Kraft kept the Patriots in New England
In the early 1990’s the Patriots’ franchise was a laughing stock. The team was constantly on the chopping block. Moreover, many believed the team’s days in Foxboro were numbered.
Foxboro had served the franchise well over the years, but in the modern NFL ,the trend was huge new stadiums in big population centers.
But there was one thing holding up the sale of the Patriots, Robert Kraft.
Kraft owned the stadium the team called home, Foxboro Stadium. Additionally, he had a multiyear ironclad lease with the team that he refused to renegotiate with interested buyers keen on moving the Patriots out of town.
After blocking a couple of sales, Robert Kraft was able to buy the floundering New England Patriots franchise in 1994. Unlike other interested parties, Kraft only mildly flirted with the idea of leaving Foxboro.
The astute businessman was able to see what others could not. He saw beyond the isolated location, the dirt parking lots, and the aged stadium where one of the worst franchises in football history played its home games to non-sellout crowds.
What Kraft created in Foxboro is nothing short of astounding.
Kraft’s grand vision
The land that kept the Patriots from moving out of town now houses the modern Gillette Stadium, which opened in 2002. The area surrounding it has since morphed into a mega shopping and entertainment complex known as Patriot Place.
Since the first shops opened in 2007, Patriot Place has grown at a torrid pace. It includes among other things:
- Patriots Hall of Fame
- CBS Scene restaurant
- 1.3 million square feet of retail space with over 20 dining options
- The four-star Renaissance Hotel
- A 14-screen movie theater
Other entertainment options include a bowling alley, escape rooms, and a paint bar.
Unlike other sports stadiums, Patriot Place is hopping seven days a week.
Circling back to MGM Springfield, MGM Resorts seems to be taking a page out of Kraft’s playbook. Yes, they’re building a casino, but like Kraft’s stadium, it’s going to be so much more than that.
MGM Springfield is much more than a casino
Unlike most casinos, MGM Springfield will be working hand-in-hand with the city to help rehab and reinvent Springfield as a destination.
The casino is impressive in its own right, boasting:
- 3,000 slot machines
- 100 table games
- 250-room, four-star boutique hotel
- Eight restaurants, dining options, and bars
- 26,000 square feet of retail space
- Entertainment options, including a bowling alley and cinema
- A 3,375-space attached parking garage
Here’s a look at some of the non-traditional aspects of the project Mass Live revealed in the article.
Casino training program
The Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute is a joint project by MGM Springfield, Springfield Technical Community College, and Holyoke Community College that will train dealers, croupiers, and table games employees. The Institute will open on Feb. 26 at 95 State St. in Springfield.
Commitment to market-rate housing
MGM Springfield purchased multiple, unused buildings from the city, including the former Armory building that will be an architectural focal point on the Main St. entrance.
Another building purchased by MGM was a rundown building at 31 Elm St. The plan is to work with the city and private developers to turn the building into 40 units of market-rate housing.
According to MassLive, MGM Springfield would contribute $11 million toward the estimated $40 million cost of redeveloping the site. MGM also purchased the former School Department building on State St. to build even more market-rate housing.
MGM Springfield plans on hosting both on-site and off-site entertainment, utilizing several Springfield venues including, MassMutual Center, CityStage, and Symphony Hall.
Outdoor public use areas
In addition to the armory, the Main St. entrance area will be a focal point for residents and visitors. The plaza area will be used for holiday displays, as well as a community ice rink.
Springfield trolley line
One of the most interesting proposals is MGM’s ongoing discussions with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission about creating a trolley system in downtown Springfield. The current proposal would seed a trolley line connect MGM Springfield with other Springfield attractions, such as the five-museum Quadrangle and the Basketball Hall of Fame. The line could also be extended to include a stop at Forest Park, home to one of the most popular holiday light displays in the state.
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