PITTSFIELD -- If MGM Resorts International receives a license from the state to build a casino in Springfield it would not block entertainers from performing in the Berkshires, a company representative said on Wednesday.
Michael Mathis, the vice president of Global Gaming Development for MGM Hospitality, said his company would do the "exact opposite," and allow acts to do "block booking," meaning they would be able to perform in both Springfield and the Berkshires as part of the same tour.
"For so long this area, particularly Springfield, but this area as well, have been the victims of radius restrictions out of Connecticut," said Mathis, after speaking at a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce function. "Because of our experience nationwide booking acts we will be able to reach out to those promoters. We've already demonstrated that with the acts we've brought to the Mass Mutual Center (in Springfield)."
Mathis said MGM would partner with different local venues here to "cross-market" entertainment opportunities, and would not impose so-called radius restrictions on performers or acts.
Michael Supranowicz, the president and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, said MGM has been working with his organization for six months, and that the two entities have signed a "letter of agreement" which outlines what the two groups can do for each other.
"They're going to use us a clearinghouse to direct us to the right kinds of businesses," Supranowicz said.
Issues that would prevent artists from coming to the Berkshires was also one of the Chamber's concerns, but Supranowicz said MGM has indicated that it would only be interested in prohibiting performers from playing at the state's other proposed casinos.
"There's no reason to believe that they would change that," the Chamber leader said. "They've been up front with us about everything so far."
In July, voters in Springfield approved MGM's plan to construct an $800 million hotel-casino in the city. Local approval was required before MGM could apply to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for the lone casino license that is being offered for Western Massachusetts. Springfield Mayor Dominec J. Sarno chose MGM as the developer over Penn National, and the Las Vegas company's proposal was approved unanimously by Springfield's City Council in May, before it was considered by voters.
MGM is the only casino operator interested in operating in Springfield, although Mohegan Sun has proposed building a casino in Palmer. MGM is the only group interested in placing a casino in Western Massachusetts that has also reached out to the Berkshire Chamber, Supranowicz said.
On Tuesday, MassLive.com reported that Springfield City Council President James J. Ferrera III has asked the chairman of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission for advice on how the city can replace MGM Resorts International if the company fails the state's background check. On Wednesday, Mathis said MGM hopes to receive a license from the state by the second quarter of 2014.
Mathis told the more than 200 people in attendance at Wednesday's Berkshire Chamber breakfast that MGM "would very much like your help in reaching out to vendors in this area."
He said there would be several opportunities for "cross-marketing" in the Berkshires. Springfield's proximity to the Berkshires could allow casino visitors to take "day trips" to this area, he added.
"We intend to leverage that tourism experience very heavily," said Mathis.
MGM will be hosting workshop and vendor "matchmaker" sessions on Nov. 6 during the Western Mass Business Expo (wmbexpo.com), which will be held at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The company also intends to hold "vendor supply" workshops on a quarterly basis throughout Western Massachusetts.
"One will be in the Berkshires, and it will be one of the earlier ones," he said.
Mathis added that MGM has already contacted Ice River Springs, which has a water bottling plant in Pittsfield, about supplying beverages for a casino.
"I don't know the exact numbers, but we buy tens of millions of that type of thing," he said.
Mathis said MGM's casino/ hotel would employ 3,000 workers. The project would create 2,000 construction jobs, he said, and take two and a half years to complete. If MGM receives a license from the state, Mathis said the casino would probably open in late 2016 or early 2017.