Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has announced the city has enlisted Chicago-based law firm Shefsky & Froelich as its legal consultant for a potential casino project in the city. Western Massachusetts is allowed to develop one casino under the state’s new gambling law, and several casino developers have expressed interest in Springfield.
Shefsky & Froelich recently represented the city of Taunton, Massachusetts during its casino negotiations with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. It has also represented the cities of Detroit and Chicago as well as the states of Ohio, Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan in similar casino development deals.
Mayor Sarno says hiring the firm for one year will cost the city one hundred twenty five thousand dollars, but the city may be able to pass that cost on to casino developers. Sarno says hiring this firm is a necessary part of bringing a casino to Springfield.
“This is a process that we need specialized expertise besides what we have in-house. We need to be professional, and we need to be compassionate in this complex process that we’re dealing with.”
City officials estimate a casino will cost five hundred million dollars, the largest construction project in the city’s history. Cid Froelich is chairman of Shefsky & Froelich. He cites Detroit’s three casinos as examples of successful urban casino developments his firm has negotiated.
“The casinos in Detroit have done remarkably well, and I think the city, even though it’s in some financial difficulties, would have been in ten times the difficulties it’s currently experiencing had it not had the casinos.”
Froelich says Detroit’s casinos employs about six thousand people. Springfield is competing against other Western Massachusetts cities including Westfield and Palmer for the region’s single casino.