MGM Springfield Outlines Evolving Plans for Casino Design
SPRINGFIELD — MGM Resorts recently detailed how and why the MGM Springfield design has evolved over the last four months. In a public presentation at CityStage in downtown Springfield, MGM executives, led by President Bill Hornbuckle, walked hundreds of attendees through the enhanced design plan, highlighting changes that allow for both design and operational efficiencies. The late-afternoon forum was hosted by Mayor Domenic Sarno and his economic-development team, led by Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy. “We are very proud of MGM Springfield’s improved design,” Hornbuckle said. “Our commitment to the city of Springfield, the region, and the Commonwealth has never wavered. Today, I am hopeful that people will see it has only gotten stronger. We are as ready as we have ever been to help return downtown Springfield to its glory days.” The MGM team presented a detailed comparison of commitments in the May 2013 host-community agreement and the new design plan, with an amenity layout resulting in a less than 1% adjustment in square footage to be experienced by customers. While some amenities, such as the child-care facility and retail, have grown in size, other operational and back-of-the-house spaces were reduced through design efficiencies. A redesign was made public earlier this fall when MGM Springfield announced it was moving the 250-room hotel along Main Street and market-rate apartments off-site. With the changes, MGM hopes to further engage Main Street while promoting ancillary development opportunities with off-site market-rate apartments. MGM is currently negotiating the purchase of 195 State St., the former Springfield School Department headquarters, to move forward with a housing redevelopment at that property. Brian Packer, MGM’s vice president of construction and development, joined Hornbuckle on stage, giving a construction update. Packer said that the company already has spent more than $23 million on MGM Springfield construction and employed 675 construction workers. Many of those workers were involved in the renovation of the new Mission on Mill Street, providing an updated, secure facility that will house a rehabilitation program, giveaway center, and business offices. Additionally, Packer laid out a sequence of construction events that will lead up to the September 2018 opening. The company estimates it will now cost more than $950 million to open MGM Springfield. Original estimates were expected to exceed $860 million, including capitalized interest and land-related costs. “MGM Springfield is not only the largest development project Western Massachusetts has ever seen, it is starting to rival the investment of the most-talked-about about development projects in the Commonwealth,” said Michael Mathis, MGM Springfield president. “We developed this presentation to provide transparency on our process. The people of Western Massachusetts want to be excited about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is MGM Springfield. We know maintaining a level of positive energy is our responsibility. Major demolition, large contract awards, and exciting opportunities to get involved are all part of the next phase, which will start very soon.” MGM is scheduled to present a comprehensive cost and design analysis to the Mass. Gaming Commission on Dec. 3. The mayor and City Council must still approve the updated site plans before MGM can go forward with its design-approval process.
Massachusetts Gains 11,000 Jobs in October
BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate remained at 4.6% in October, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced Thursday. The preliminary job estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate Massachusetts added 11,000 jobs in October. The largest over-the-month job gains occurred in the education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; and other services sectors. Year-to-date, Massachusetts has added 62,800 jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised preliminary job estimates for September that originally indicated Massachusetts lost 7,100 jobs. BLS revised estimates for September show the state lost 2,200 jobs. The October preliminary estimates show 3,396,900 Massachusetts residents were employed during the month, and 164,000 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,560,900. The labor force decreased by 8,700 from 3,569,600 in September, as 9,600 fewer residents were employed and 900 more residents were unemployed over the month. Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.9% from 5.5% in October 2014. There were 32,000 fewer unemployed persons over the year compared to October 2014. The October state unemployment rate remains lower than the national rate of 5.0% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Massachusetts continues to add jobs, and the labor market is strong. We frequently hear from employers that they have jobs to fill, which is a good position for the state to be in,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker II said. The state’s labor-force-participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — decreased 0.2% point to 64.7% over the month. The labor-force-participation rate over the year has decreased 0.8% compared to October 2014. The largest private-sector percentage job gains over the year were in professional, scientific, and business services; construction; other services; leisure and hospitality; and education and health services.