Workers placed the final curved steel beam for the MGM Springfield casino's hotel rotunda during a March 29 topping off ceremony celebrating a project believed to be Western Massachusetts' largest private investment in history.

More than halfway completed, the $950-million casino project began last January and the casino is scheduled to open in September of 2018. The 14-acre site has about 2 million sq ft of construction, including a structural frame with 4,500 pieces of steel weighing 9 million pounds, according to an MGM Springfield news release. The six-story, block-long building was originally planned as a 25-story glass tower. The casino complex anchors the south end of a larger downtown development that includes the $94-million Union Station that has undergone a four-year rehabilitation and is expected to reopen in June. 

Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, said in an interview with ENR earlier this year that the casino is the first "true urban casino [in the U.S.] not to be built like a fortress." He says, "It is a one-of-a-kind project with 19 points of access that looks more like Springfield than anything else." 

The three-city block complex with a street-facing design incorporates revived historic buildings that will "introduce a vibrant entertainment and tourism district to downtown Springfield," the press release states. Besides the casino and 250-room boutique hotel, the complex will include a spa, retail and approximately 44,000 sq ft of banquet and meetings space. There will also be a movie theater, bowling alley, outdoor skating rink and an outdoor marketplace featuring events and work from local artists. The project's 3,400-vehicle parking garage constructed with 2,609 precast concrete pieces and 10,295 cubic yards of concrete is slated to be completed early next year, according to the press release. 

The event was attended by officials from the project's construction manager, AECOM Tishman, Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Enrique Zuniga, project sub-contractors and workers and labor representatives from more than 20 building trades.

The design and construction team includes civil engineer Allen and Major, geotechnical engineer Sanborn Head, structural engineer DeSimone and architect/designer Friedmutter Group.

Subcontractors for the superstructure phase include a local family-owned business, Gagliarducci Construction, as well as a minority enterprise, the American Environmental Group. Veteran-owned T&M Equipment Corp, S&F Concrete of Massachusetts, Berlin Steel of Connecticut, plumbing firm Harry Grodsky & Co. and Collins Electric are also working on the project. 

In a statement, Randy Pitts, an AECOM Tishman vice president, thanked the project team and added "Every worker has come on site with a collaborative spirit and can-do attitude. I am honored to be part of this team, MGM's vision and a true revitalization project."

Michael Mathis, MGM Springfield president, added that the ceremony was a "time to reaffirm we are ready to push forward with the hard work still ahead to bring this project to fruition."

The ceremony came just days after The Harford Courant reported on March 26 that Connecticut lawmakers are considering legislation to expand casinos off tribal reservations in their own state as a way to keep gaming dollars from moving out of Connecticut to Springfield. One bill would allow the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casino operators to jointly construct the state's third tribal casino in East Windsor. Another bill known as the “MGM Bill” would allow the state to solicit more proposals from other potential operators as well as the tribal operators.