Penn National, MGM make Massachusetts pitches

MassachusettsPenn National Gaming and MGM Resorts International have been well-documented rivals for quite some time and with the companies vying to build a casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, it’s only a matter of time before the two casino operators would cross paths again.

Over the past two days, both Penn National and MGM have been meeting with city residents, councilors, the council’s Casino Site Committee to present their respective casino proposals in Springfield. For the two, it’s been a pretty busy 48 hours getting grilled and having to answer tough questions as far as their economic plans for the city as it pertains to their proposed casinos.

Talking to Massachusetts Live, Council President James J. Ferrera III commended both Penn National and MGM Resorts for their elaborate plans regarding their respective casino proposals. Ferrera stopped short of mentioning his preference, opting only to say that the meetings were “very positive” and that both operators have their respective “pros and cons”.

Ferrera and Councilor Timothy J. Rooke also mentioned that the two proposals shared some similarities and differences, no surprise considering that Penn National and MGM Resorts are eyeing different locations in both ends of the city.

Penn National Gaming’s proposal calls for an $807-million comprehensive economic development project that will include a Hollywood-branded destination casino resort. The company is working in partnership with Peter Picknelly, Chief Executive Officer of Springfield-based Peter Pan Bus Lines, to construct the proposed new facility on 13.4 acres of land it controls in the north end of Springfield. The whole project, according to Penn National, is expected to create 2,500 construction jobs and 1,500 casino-related jobs.

Meanwhile, MGM’s proposal class for an $850 million resort casino that will be built in Downtown Springfield and will include, a residential district, as well as dining, retail, and entertainment options. The operator also hinted at creating more than 3,000 permanent jobs and 2,000 temporary construction jobs.

As far as the game of one-upmanship was concerned, both companies brought their ‘A’ games in trying to convince residents and city leaders that their proposal was the best. MGM estimated that it could bring up to eight million visitors to Springfield, double the number that Penn National estimated it would bring. On the flip side, Penn National reiterated its goal to hire 90 percent of its employees from Springfield, a significantly higher number than the 35 percent MGM threw out as its estimate.

Regardless of whatever promises the two casinos have made towards the city, the final and ultimate decision is still out of their hands. But to their credit, they’re making it really difficult for the folks and leaders of Springfield to come to a decision.