When the tornado hit Springfield in 2001, the Howard Street School was damaged beyond use. The city, being broke, couldn’t afford to fix it up. The same thing happened to the South End Community Center. Without the money to repair either, the buildings have just been languishing.
This comes as little surprise, as the City Council, lacking any other ideas, can’t get the casino here fast enough. I’m sure they saw this as a win-win deal: they get some cash and get the properties on the tax rolls, MGM gets land, and Springfield gets to be “The City that Sold a School to a Casino”. Nothing to be ashamed of there!
Our newspaper, the Springfield Republican, also loves the casino, or at least the ad revenue from it. The paper will happily announce the latest step along the way to the pot o’ gold even as they report on the failures of nearby casinos in Connecticut and Atlantic City. Despite the fact that the market is saturated right now, and that’s before new ones open up in Massachusetts and New York, they’re convinced that somehow this casino will be different, and will bring in tourism and money from all over the area.
The Republican does have some letters to the editor that are anti casino, but these voices are drowned out by the comments from folks who have been promised hope, jobs, and cash for the city. As one pro-casino commenter puts it, the people who support the casino “are also not in favor of having the lifestyle views of zealots – who reside in the anti-casino movement – rammed down their throats.” The party line seems to be that the only ones against the casino are puritan moral scolds who think gambling is a sin. And apparently them not wanting a giant eyesore, crime magnet, money vacuum, and traffic obstacle in the city counts as “ramming it down the throats” of those who…simply…want this thing.
I hope they’re right, because if the casino doesn’t solve all our problems, this is the only plan we have. Even we who oppose MGM have to hope that a casino can will do what a school and a community center couldn’t.