The chief executive of Hard Rock International joined a delegation of high-level company officials in Springfield this week for meetings and to view up to three potential casino sites, according to a person close to the developer who was not authorized to talk about the visit.
The arrival of the top executive, Hamish Dodds, for a personal tour Tuesday appears to signal that the company is close to finalizing its plans, the person said. Where Hard Rock intends to locate is still unknown.
Another big-name casino competitor, MGM Resorts, appears to have its eye on the city’s South End, a longtime Italian-American neighborhood hit hard by last year’s tornado, and an area in which local developer Paul Picknelly reportedly has proposed a casino site.
A top MGM executive, Cynthia Kiser Murphey — president of New York-New York Hotel & Casino, an MGM theme resort on the Las Vegas Strip — offered the company’s support in a meeting earlier this month with representatives from the South End Community Center, which was heavily damaged in the tornado and has not recovered.
“In touring Springfield, we were particularly struck by the devastation that the June 2011 tornado caused in the South End, so we decided to meet with folks at the hard-hit South End Community Center to see if we could be helpful,” MGM said in a statement, when asked about the meeting.
MGM Resorts also has its eye on the city, with reports of a casino site in the South End, hit hard by last year’s tornado.
“Having worked in a similar environment in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina, we have a keen understanding of the broad and disabling impact Mother Nature has on a community in these kinds of situations,” the company said. MGM’s Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Mississippi had to be rebuilt after Katrina.
MGM would not confirm that it is pursuing a South End casino.
The Globe reported Sunday that four casino companies are interested in building in the city. The other two are Ameristar, which has bought land several miles from downtown, and Penn National Gaming, which has not yet announced a site.