Springfield City Council approves community host agreement - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Springfield City Council approves community host agreement

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After a turbulent week in Springfield city hall, city councilors unanimously approved the host community agreement with MGM Resorts International at a special meeting, allowing it to proceed to a city-wide vote.

On Monday, city council president James Ferrera halted the process, saying he had unanswered questions about the casino company's total investment.

"We need to insure that this developer and these investors are held accountable," he said Friday night.

Even after a week of disagreements, Ferrera and his fellow councilors approved the agreement without making any changes.

"It will provide an increase in jobs, construction jobs, it will be great for labor, and will also provide an economic catalyst," Ferrera said.

The unanimous vote came as a relief to MGM officials, who now say they'll be putting on a full court press to get high approval in a city-wide vote.

"We were hoping that we would have that kind of support, it's important going into Boston and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission competition," said Vice President of Global Gaming and Development for MGM, Michael Mathis.

But as MGM officials work to build a pro-casino campaign, casino opponents are plan on ramping up a campaign of their own.

"We're going to make our voices heard every Sunday in our pulpits, we're going to make our voices heard by knocking on doors and we're going to do it the old-fashioned campaign way, we're going to roll up our sleeves," said Archbishop Timothy Paul, president of the Council of Churches in Western Mass, which is affiliated with the anti-casino group, Citizens Against Casino Gaming.

Springfield officials now say that residents can expect that city-wide vote sometime around July 16.

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