The soon-to-open MGM Springfield casino was announced today as the venue for a signature fundraising event for a venerable civic organization.
This year’s City of Bright Nights Ball, the principal fundraising event for Spirit of Springfield, will take place on the evening of Nov 10th in the grand ballroom of the $960 million resort casino complex that is in the final stages of construction in downtown Springfield.
"This is the best party of the year, and MGM needs to host the best party of the year," said MGM Springfield President Mike Mathis, who announced a $50,000 fundraising goal for the non-profit organization that produces annual events including the Bright Nights at Forest Park holiday light display, a Fourth of July fireworks show, and the city’s annual 9/11 commemoration.
"It's a big obligation. We have to raise it to the next level, but if there is one thing we are good at it is putting on events," said Mathis.
He said hosting the black tie gala will be an opportunity to show off the new casino, which is on track to open in September.
"It is really the right group of people.who care about the city, that want to put on a nice suit and come downtown for a party. Those are the kind of customers we want," said Mathis. " It is a win-win that showcases what the (MGM) organization can do and showcases our facility."
Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt said it is exciting to be part of MGM’s opening season.
"It is a new place, a new venue and we are the first event that was booked there, said Matt. " So, we are excited."
The 11,000-square foot ballroom can accommodate about 600 people. Matt said she expects the ball will be sold out. The price for tickets, which are not yet on sale, has not been announced.
"There is going to be enthusiasm about seeing ( the casino) for the first time," said Matt. "I think we will have a big crowd."
The annual Bright Nights Ball started in 1998 and was held for 22 of the last 23 years in a ballroom at the downtown Springfield Sheraton hotel. Monday’s announcement of the venue change was held at the hotel, where Matt said she expects the ball to return after this year.
Mayor Domenic Sarno urged community support for Spirit of Springfield, which he praised for putting on events that draw thousands of visitors.
"You can't put a price tag on the twinkle in the eye it leaves, in young and old, when you go through Bright Nights that has become family tradition generation after generation after generation," said Sarno.
The fundraising gala will be a prelude to the start in late November of the 25th season of the 3-mile-long holiday light display in the city’s largest park.