MGM Springfield, a luxury gaming resort in Springfield’s historic South End, is anticipated to open its doors in late summer 2018. This over $960 million project is the largest private investment in the history of Western Massachusetts and is a driving force behind the ongoing revitalization of downtown Springfield. The road to a successful opening was long and full of challenges: the process began in 2011, following the signing of extended gambling legislation in the state. When MGM Resorts International decided to explore opportunities in the region, Ventry was brought on as strategic advisors to help the company’s senior management navigate the state’s multi-faceted selection process.
Ventry helped to facilitate the relocation of the proposed project from an initial location in Brimfield to Springfield, bringing the project to the heart of Pioneer Valley. Ventry also provided strategic guidance to senior MGM leadership on public relations, media relations, political affairs, and community outreach, as well as crisis communications and rapid response services on statewide, regional, and local issues. Ventry has worked to build and steward relationships in Springfield and throughout Western Massachusetts, helping to orient MGM Springfield in the local business, political, and cultural network.
With the help of Ventry Associates, MGM Springfield was able to fend off obstacles from all sides, including five competing casino proposals in the region. In 2013, Mayor Domenic Sarno announced the selection of MGM. The City Council approved the agreement, followed by a citywide referendum vote in which the proposal was approved by 58% of voters. This was ultimately the only successful casino referendum vote in the Western Massachusetts region.
Then again in 2014, the voters had their say, when a referendum attempting to repeal the Expanded Gaming Act was placed on the statewide ballot. Ventry Associates continued to serve MGM in an advisory capacity and worked with the statewide campaign coalition to coordinate support for the gaming law in both western and central Massachusetts. The measure was overwhelmingly defeated, with over 60% of the electorate voting to retain the Gaming Law, opening the path forward for MGM Springfield.
Ventry Associates continues its work with MGM Springfield, assisting with policy work, communications, community relations, and coordination with construction teams dealing with the particular challenges of building in a dense urban environment.