Love it or hate it, Western Massachusetts is getting a casino. Putting the gaming aside, this could forever change the sports and entertainment makeup of the region.
Any promoter in the country can tell you exactly what the venue in Uncasville is, even without being told what state it's in. About a decade ago, the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut opened its doors, and would quickly become the number one destination for concerts in Connecticut. The 9,323 permanent seat arena has been recognized by Billboard Magazine as a top concert venue, and continually receives the biggest names in the touring industry.
Putting aside the track record of Mohegan Sun, and the possibility of Mohegan Sun Palmer, a casino in Palmer or Springfield would not make Western Mass. the new Uncasville of sports and entertainment. It is not likely that an arena would be built at any of the proposed sites, although Mohegan Sun has mentioned the possibility of an entertainment venue for their proposed site off the Massachusetts Turnpike in Palmer.
At the very most, Western Mass. could become an added destination for medium-sized concerts. This would be beneficial to making the region more of an attraction for promoters. There would be virtually no effect for sporting events, although it would certainly rival the booking of concerts for the MassMutual Center and Mullins Center.
As Mohegan Sun, MGM, Hard Rock and Ameristar battle for a casino in Palmer or Springfield, the result will indefinitely change the region's sports and entertainment industry. Just as the Mohegan Sun Arena forever changed Connecticut's concert scene, a new casino here will do the same. With the amount of fans the concerts bring in to gamble, eat, drink and stay, the casino will be heavily invested in providing quality entertainment. Western Mass. is in for quite an entertainment revolution.
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at email@example.com.