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MGM Resorts promises 3,000 jobs in casino plan

BRIMFIELD -- MGM Resorts International, one of the largest casino companies in the world, said today that thousands of jobs would be generated by the company’s proposed “world-class” casino resort in this tiny Western Massachusetts town.

The company also promised that if the project is approved by the state and town, there would be no access to the site through the town’s roads; resortgoers would have to use the Massachusetts Turnpikes instead. And it said that it was opening an office today in the town center to answer any questions from residents.

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MGM Resorts chairman and chief executive Jim Murren announced at a news conference that the company had signed a contract with Rolling Hills Estates Realty Trust to purchase 150 acres of land just north of the Massachusetts Turnpike in the town.

“When we decided to get actively involved in Massachusetts, we scoured the state for a location that would provide the rural setting that New Englanders want,” Murren said in a statement. “The remote nature of this property, along with its proximity to the Mass Pike, is exactly what we had in mind.”

The working name for the resort would be Rolling Hills Resort. A new off-ramp from the Pike would be built to provide access to the resort, the company said.

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Murren estimated that the casino would directly generate some 3,000 permanent direct jobs as well as indirectly generate several thousand more. Several thousand construction jobs would also be created during the building of the project, the statement said.

The town of Brimfield has only about 3,400 residents. It is currently known for its antique shows.

MGM Resorts officials met privately with town officials and key community members this morning.

Company officials said they expected to be able to present artist’s renderings of the proposed resort within two to three months. If the project goes forward, it will take 30 to 36 months to build, they said.

Brimfield resident Tony Bys, 60, a retired postal worker who works part time for the town, said, “I’m still trying to keep an open mind, and if it’s done the way they say it will be, then I don’t have a problem with it.”

The key element, said Bys, is that there will be no local access to the casino on town roads.

“If we were going to get X amount of dollars but we would have to deal with traffic” then it would not be worth pursuing, he said.

MGM Resorts runs a number of high-profile Las Vegas resorts, including the Bellaggio (which was featured in the 2001 movie Ocean’s Eleven) Luxor, and Mandalay Bay.

Company officials appeared at the news conference this morning along with David Callahan, a principal of the Rolling Hills Estates Realty Trust, at a news conference at the Hitchcock Free Academy.

MGM Resorts joins a crowded field seeking the sole casino license available in Western Massachusetts under the state’s new gambling law. Operators of the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut are proposing a resort in Palmer, while Ameristar Casinos wants to build on a site in Springfield and Hard Rock International has been eyeing Holyoke.

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