MGM Springfield getting ready to roll

  • Craig Schoettler, corporate mixologist for MGM Resorts International, talks about the most expensive drink at the MGM Springfield Commonwealth Bar and Lounge during a media preview of the casino resort on Monday, August 20, 2018. For $25,000, the cocktail features a taste of a 1901 vintage Croizet cognac - and includes an Indian motorcycle, seen in background. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • A view inside the casino at MGM Springfield during a media preview on Monday. The complex is set to open on Friday. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • MGM Springfield President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mathis, second from left, is interviewed in the library-themed lobby of the resort casino during a media preview on Monday, August 20, 2018. The complex is set to open on Friday. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • A standard king room photographed during a media preview of the MGM Springfield resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. The complex is set to open on Friday. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Carpet in the MGM Springfield resort casino hotel hallways features excerpts of poetry by Emily Dickinson. Photographed on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • "Bench of Expectation" by Danish artist Jeppe Hein graces a courtyard in front of the Armory at the MGM Springfield resort casino. Photographed on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Chandler Steakhouse at the MGM Springfield resort casino is shown during a media preview Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Valentin Mihail, Food and Beverage Director at MGM Springfield, talks about the Chandler Steakhouse during a media preview of the resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The hotel lobby of the MGM Springfield resort casino features a literary theme. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • A view of the Cal Mare restaurant during a media preview of the MGM Springfield resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Regal Vice President of Communications Richard Grover, left, talks on Monday, August 20, 2018, about one of the seven theaters set to open soon at the MGM Springfield resort casino. This larger auditorium seats 100; the smaller ones seat 50. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Essentials retail shop at MGM Springfield features a chandelier composed of bike chains and a "door cloud" ceiling of doors salvaged from the properties formerly on the site of the resort complex. Photographed during a media preview on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Armory can be seen from the terrace of the meetings and convention facility of the MGM Springfield resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. The complex is set to open on Friday. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The "Free Masons Picture" by Chauncy Moore is seen in the meeting and convention facility of MGM Springfield during a media preview on Monday, August 20, 2018. The complex is set to open on Friday. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The South End Market takes is sited at one corner of the casino at MGM Springfield, offering a variety of restaurants. Photogaphed during a media preview of the resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The TAP bowling lanes seen during a media preview of the MGM Springfield resort casino on Monday. STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The TAP arcade and ten-lane bowling alley are seen during a media preview of the MGM Springfield resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. The basket references Springfield as the birthplace of basketball. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The former French Congregational Church, which was moved a short distance for the construction of MGM Springfield, is now a home to Bernardston-based Kringle Candle. Photographed during a media preview of the MGM Springfield resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Detail in one of the standard king rooms of the MGM Springfield resort casino. Photographed on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Sarah Moore, Vice President of Brand Marketing and Retail, speaks during a media preview of the MGM Springfield resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. The complex is set to open on Friday. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • MGM Springfield President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mathis speaks during a media preview of the resort casino on Monday, August 20, 2018. The complex is set to open on Friday. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • One of three similar chandeliers in the Presidential Suite of the MGM Springfield resort casino. The fixtures are a nod to "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" by Springfield's own Theodor Geisel, or Dr. Seuss. Photographed during a media preview on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The bathroom of a standard king room at the MGM Springfield resort casino. Photographed on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • An illustration of an Indian motorcycle, built in Springfield, is featured in the hotel lobby of the MGM Springfield resort casino. Photographed during a media preview on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • This is part of the master bath area of the 1600-square-foot Presidential Suite of the MGM Springfield resort casino. Photographed during a media preview on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • This is the main living area of the 1600-square-foot Presidential Suite on the sixth floor of the MGM Springfield resort casino. Photographed during a media preview on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

  • A dictionary greets visitors in the entrance to the1600-square-foot Presidential Suite at the MGM Springfield resort casino. Photographed during a media preview on Monday, August 20, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO / KEVIN GUTTING

@BeraDunau
Published: 8/20/2018 9:58:00 PM

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield, the first casino in state history, will open for business Friday at 11 a.m. — and western Massachusetts may very well never be the same again.

“It’ll be an experience unlike any they’ve ever seen,” said MGM Springfield President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mathis.

Workers were still busy in many parts of the resort getting the campus ready for its opening, when the Gazette and other media organizations were given a tour of its grounds. However, Mathis gave no indication that the resort would be anything but prepared to go live on Friday.

“We’re ready,” said Mathis. “I feel really good about the work our team’s done.”

Taking up three blocks of downtown Springfield and coming with a $960 million price tag, the resort features a 252-room, 16-suite hotel; dining options that range from a steakhouse to a classic American diner; alcohol offerings that run the gamut from $5 beer to a $25,000 cocktail (yes, $25,000); and entertainment options that will include a bowling alley and concerts at the resort and at the MassMutual Center.

Then there’s the casino, which will include 120 gaming tables, a poker room with 23 poker tables, and 2,550 slot machines that dominate the casino floor, and have names such as Sword of Destiny, Spider-Man and Buffalo Max, as well as one simply called Bear.

In terms of employment, Mathis said that 2,700 people are working in the building and 300 to 400 are in the middle of licensing or background checks, meaning that the resort is on track to hit its 3,000-3,100 target.

And although he said that this phase of hiring has been mostly completed, there will be hiring post-opening as well.

“It’s a continuous process,” he said.

The resort marks the first time that MGM has incorporated a casino into the architecture of a downtown. Many elements of the resort hark back to western Massachusetts’ history and heritage. Elements of the United Electric Co. Building, which was demolished to make room for the casino, have been incorporated into the resort building, and the old Springfield Armory is being repurposed as an events space.

A similar sensibility extends to the decor, with trophies acquired from the Brimfield Antique Flea Market and Merriam-Webster dictionaries being used for decoration. Emily Dickinson quotes are displayed in the carpet of the hotel, and the hotel’s presidential suite contains an homage to the Dr. Seuss book the “500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” in the form of a fanciful hat-filled chandelier.

Indeed, the casino is considering itself to be a new 18th district in the city, which now is divided into 17 districts.

Four of the resort’s seven currently occupied retail spaces are expansions of businesses with Massachusetts roots: Hannoush Jewelers, Indian Motorcycle, Western Mass News and Kringle Candle Co. In the case of Kringle Candle, it’s the business’s first location outside of its Bernardston headquarters.

The store is located in the historic French Congregational Church building, which was moved to make way for the main resort building.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to get in front of a lot of people,” said Meseydi Machado, sales director at Kringle Candle Co.

A retail space is also still available at the resort, which Mathis said is by design, as MGM likes to leave available spaces at its properties as they develop.

Aside from a Starbucks, all 10 food and beverage options are through MGM. One of them is The Chandler Steakhouse, which will feature a dry-aging room for steaks that people can see into from Main Street.

“It’s a new thing happening right now,” said Valentin Mihail, director of food and beverage at MGM Springfield.

Steaks will range from $24 to $59 at the establishment.

While Indian Motorcycle is not going to be selling motorcycles at the resort, it will have a clothing apparel store, a first for the company. There are also Indian Motorcycle-inspired art pieces at the resort, including a large mural.

However, if you are determined to buy an Indian bike on your visit to MGM Springfield, there is a way. MGM Springfield’s most expensive cocktail is a sidecar, made with a 1901 Croizet cognac of which there are only two bottles, and comes with an Indian bike. The spirit was selected because 1901 is the year Indian Motorcycles was founded, in no other city but Springfield.

The price for all of this is $25,000, and it will be on the menu at the Commonwealth Bar and Lounge.

“It’s open for anybody,” said Craig Schoettler, corporate mixologist for MGM Resorts International.

Schoettler said the resort has hired 80 bartenders and is still hiring.

“We’re always taking,” he said.

One element of the resort that will not be available on opening day will be the seven-theater Regal Cinemas. In addition to the typical movie concessions, the theater will feature food like “The Ultimate Tavern Burger,” Korean barbecue tacos, and alcoholic beverages.

Asked about the impending casino opening, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz noted that the city has been using the $100,000 it received from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in mitigation funding to develop a marketing plan to try to attract patrons at the resort to Paradise City.

“We’ve been very methodical and deliberate,” Narkewicz said. He said the plan will be finalized next month, after which the city will work with business owners and stakeholders to implement it.

He also said that while he has opposed casino gambling in the state from the moment it was floated as a policy, he still wishes the city of Springfield nothing but the best.

Mansour Ghalibaf, who owns Hotel Northampton, said that a number of people will be attracted to the casino at first out of curiosity. However, he also said that he feels that the casino will benefit Northampton if it uses its assets correctly.

“In the long term we are going to benefit from it,” he said.

He said the rail link between Northampton and Springfield is an asset, and Northampton is both safe and friendly.

“People will recognize that,” he said.

In terms of opening traffic, Mathis said that an off-site parking lot will be set up at the Big E fairgrounds and people will be bused over.

As for how Springfield is receiving the soon-to-be-open resort, Mathis said it is embracing it.

“It’s been really overwhelmingly positive — just the pride that the city feels in what we’ve built here,” he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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