Hard Rock International
Rendering of the proposed $800 million Hard Rock in Western Springfield, Massachusetts on the Big E fairgrounds

Hard Rock & The Big E? Vote Coming on New Casino for Massachusetts

August 20, 2013

West Springfield voters will determine on September 10 whether Hard Rock International can stay in the fight to win a Western Massachusetts gaming license, reported masslive.com.

The Florida-based Seminole Tribe’s gaming powerhouse has proposed a $800 million casino resort to occupy 38 acres of the Eastern States Exposition, site of the 17-day “Big E” fair, billed as “New England's Great State Fair.” It is the sixth largest agricultural fair in the country and the only cross-state agricultural fair in the United States. The Big E, held every autumn in West Springfield, serves as the de facto state fair for the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

In January, officials at the Eastern States Exposition announced their partnership with Hard Rock International for a potential casino, reported wggb.com.

Eugene Cassidy, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition, said the relationship with Hard Rock International is “a match made in heaven.” The project will help “preserve the past and ensure the future” of the fairgrounds, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2016.

The West Springfield public will determine if Hard Rock can continue to compete for the lone Western Massachusetts license with the Mohegan Sun and MGM Resorts International. In late April, Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, lost its more than $800 million bid to build a casino in Springfield to MGM Resorts, as determined by Springfield officials, reported readingeagle.com.

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Hard Rock’s proposal includes 100,000 square feet of gaming space, 2,500 slot machines and 100 table games, a tropical pool, meeting space, retail, restaurants, and a 7,000-space parking lot. As part of the project, the current outside concert area at the Big E would be renovated and updated.

Hard Rock has also promised to invest $35 million in traffic improvements including a new interchange on Route 5 to provide a new entrance and exit from the casino, plus significant upgrades to Memorial Avenue, the main road to the fairgrounds.

According to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission's projected timetable, casino resorts would require two years for construction and open in the state in early 2016, reported the Taunton Daily Gazette.