West Springfield is now the second Western Massachusetts community to sign a deal with a prospective casino operator. Hard Rock Gaming wants to build a resort casino on part of the Eastern States Exposition grounds.
The 800-million-dollar plan calls for a casino, 12-story hotel and commercial development. West Springfield would receive 18-million-dollars each year from Hard Rock plus 40 million dollars in up-front payments. Most of that would cover road construction. West Springfield Mayor Greg Neffinger says the economic impact from the proposed project would allow for other parts of town to be revitalized.
“It’s really an opportunity to really look at an $800-million investment in West Springfield and what that could really do for other areas of town that we knew needed to be redeveloped, but lacked the resources to do that.”
Some neighbors of the Big E grounds have said they are against the casino plan because of traffic concerns. Neffinger says with road improvements, the site is ideal for a major development.
“We think that it’s quite a remote area and in bringing in this new boulevard off of Route 5, it’s going to mean that really people could enter and leave and never really quite interact with West Springfield very much.”
The plan will likely go before voters in September. Meanwhile Springfield will hold a referendum Tuesday on its casino deal with MGM. The state Gaming Commission is scheduled to make a decision on a Western Massachusetts casino this winter.