MGM Resorts executives have a message for Springfield: We’re not going anywhere.
On Thursday, officials of the company building a casino in the Western Massachusetts city said the roughly 2 million-square-foot gambling emporium will open a few weeks ahead of schedule, on Aug. 24.
Springfield officials and residents have been looking for some assurances from MGM, given recent events. Rumors have swirled that Wynn Resorts could sell its Boston-area casino project as a result of state regulators’ scrutiny into sexual misconduct complaints against its now former chief executive, Steve Wynn; MGM has been mentioned as a possible buyer. Casino operators are only allowed one license in the state, so the fate of the MGM casino in Springfield suddenly seemed up in the air.
MGM Springfield president Mike Mathis said in an interview that his team isn’t thinking about Boston. It’s all Springfield — all the time. Previously Mathis had said the project, the first full-scale casino in Massachusetts, would open in the fall. Now, he attributes the speedier timeline in part to better-than-expected weather.
Time is money, particularly in the gambling business. Finishing the $960 million project in August means it will be open for two major annual events: the Basketball Hall of Fame induction and the Big E agricultural fair. MGM has hired 400 people, Mathis said, and expects to hire another 200 in early May. The complex, including its 250-room hotel, will support 3,000 jobs after it opens.
MGM hasn’t publicly ruled out any interest in Wynn Boston Harbor. But MGM CEO Jim Murren told analysts Thursday that a Wynn acquisition is unlikely, and MGM president Bill Hornbuckle visited Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno this week to emphasize MGM’s commitment.
Wynn may still need to prove it will stick around in Everett. But MGM executives hope their words can assuage similar concerns in Springfield.Jon Chesto can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.