Massachusetts' first resort casino with expansive gambling and entertainment options opened Friday with a Las Vegas-style flourish.
A procession through downtown Springfield kicked off with Budweiser Clydesdale horses and other entertainment in the morning.
Doors officially opened at 11 a.m. at the casino, hotel, entertainment, and retail complex, which is considered the first of its kind in Massachusetts.
"This is our opportunity to rise again and redefine ourselves, reinvent ourselves here and I think this is a good starting point on it and I’m very happy to have MGM here," said Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno who helped kick off the event.
The crowds wrapped around the block — waiting since as early as 4:30 a.m. — and they couldn't have been more excited to get inside and test their luck.
"I’m too excited, as soon as I got in the elevator I was like, 'we made it! Yes! let's get ready,'" said Amy Smith of East Hartford.
"It's exciting," added Sheryl Rhoades of Palmer. "We don't have to go to Connecticut, we're right down the road."
As the slot machines came alive, the tables filled with patrons and the casino's first winners began to enjoy their bit of beginner's luck.
“The atmosphere is fantastic, you've got everybody psyched and we're jumping and we're ready to go, and what better place to be than MGM Springfield," said Peter Varhol of New Britain, Connecticut.
Some people who played their luck and came out winners said they knew their limits.
"I've got Lady Luck on my side, I just won $500," said Roulette winner Anita Nelson. "I'm done though, I'm done though, I'm done, I know when to hold ‘em and fold 'em."
City officials hailed Friday's opening as a significant step forward in Springfield's economic renewal. The new casino occupies a corner of downtown that was hit hard by a major tornado in 2011.
MGM Springfield president Michael Mathis says the opening was "pretty magical."
The Dropkick Murphys will be performing Saturday. MGM says it has expanded its free shuttle through the weekend. If you park at the Big E, a shuttle will bring you to the casino.
Here is a look at some of the game-changing MGM casino's numbers:
- Seven years since Massachusetts legalized casino gambling in 2011, paving the way for MGM and other casino companies to seek state gambling licenses.
- Three years and 5 months: Amount of time from the project's March 24, 2015, groundbreaking to its official Aug. 24 opening.
- $960 million: Total project budget, which came in higher than the early estimates of $850 million.
- 3,000 people employed on opening day.
- 35 percent: Number of those who are Springfield residents.
- $25 million: The amount Springfield is expected to receive annually from MGM once the casino opens its doors. (The city also received a $15 million upfront payment from the company.)
- 14.5: Roughly the number of acres the development covers, or about three city blocks.
- 250: Rooms in the casino's five-floor boutique hotel.
- 2,550 and 120: Number of slot machines and table games, respectively, on the casino's 125,000-square-foot (11,612 square meters) gambling floor.
- 200 yards: Roughly the distance a more than 130-year-old historic brick church was moved to accommodate the casino development. It now anchors the casino's public plaza.
- $25,000: Cost of an "Indian Sidecar" at the casino's Commonwealth Bar. The drink is made with a cognac from 1901 and an actual motorcycle by Indian Motorcycle. The company was founded in Springfield in -- you guessed it --1901.
- 4 a.m.: Last call for alcohol, at least if you are still gambling. Casino bars and restaurants will still honor the state's 2 a.m. cutoff.
- 1891: The year basketball was invented in Springfield by gym teacher James Naismith. The sport's local roots figures heavily into the casino's sports bar, Tap.
- 2: Number of U.S. presidents who stayed at the historic Chandler Hotel, the facade of which was incorporated into the casino's steakhouse. The presidents were James Polk and James Buchanan, the nation's 11th and 15th presidents, respectively.