‘A testament to the city’: How MGM’s entertainment scene has ignited Springfield

MGM Springfield marks its fifth anniversary Thursday. This week, reporters for MassLive and The Republican are taking stock of the casino venture’s rise and evolution.


Ten years ago, the city of Springfield wasn’t hosting a lot of large-scale, successful entertainment events. But that entertainment scene was completely revamped when MGM Springfield came to town.

Since MGM’s opening in 2018, the largest city in Western Massachusetts has had up-close exposure to some of the biggest musical and comedic acts in the world.

  • Read more: Taking stock of MGM Springfield, five years later

Whether it’s hosting routine local music acts as a part of MGM’s Free Music Fridays or the casino’s work to book award-winning artists like Bruno Mars at the MassMutual Center, MGM’s impact over the years has taken the spotlight away from cities like Hartford or Boston and shined it bright on Springfield.

MGM manages the MassMutual Center on behalf of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. Meaning, MGM is running the MassMutual Center like its own including the time, energy and commitment it put into finding entertainment for the city.

All that time spent has proven to be driven by success. Historically, MGM has helped the MassMutual Center open its doors to musical tycoons like Stevie Wonder, Cher and Aerosmith to name a few. It has also let comedians like Bill Burr, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and John Mulaney stand on their stage, some even completely selling out shows.

“We in the past five years have had acts that traditionally never would’ve routed through Springfield,” said Sean Dolan, MassMutual Center general manager. “And it’s through that relationship with MGM and then the city obviously comes together to deliver a great experience.”

  • Read more: ‘It made us better operators;’ How COVID changed MGM Springfield

The success of these shows is why more keep coming, Dolan said, adding that they’re proving that Springfield is a viable market, compared to what it was before MGM Springfield came to be.

The entertainment MGM has brought to the city has shown to benefit the other businesses operating in it, drawing crowds from its events to city dining.

“On property and outside, we see and hear from our neighbors at Nadim’s and Red Rose of what our business here extends out to their business at their venues. Guests will say, ‘what exciting show is happening tonight?’ And the response has been fantastic. I think for this area to have regular access to entertainment is incredible and it’s not something that was really the usual,” Director of Entertainment at MGM Springfield Amanda Croteau said.

In September, the MassMutual Center will be welcoming comedians Jon Stewart, John Mulaney and Pete Davidson — one of five tour stops in the country — adding to the popularity that is Springfield.

“It’s a testament to the city for sure,” Dolan praised.

  • Read more: Jon Stewart, John Mulaney, Pete Davidson to perform at MassMutual Center

Apart from its success, MGM uniquely has a plethora of spaces that conform to the entertainment it hosts.

MGM has a ballroom that it can convert into different spaces. The Armory, which hosts comedy and other miscellaneous events, the MassMutual Center which hosts massive arena comedy shows and concerts and Symphony Hall to houses large-scale theater events.

“That partnership with the city at Symphony Hall and being able to bring shows, there is a tremendous portion of what we can offer to our guests here at MGM,” Croteau said.

Shows in Springfield at MGM, the MassMutual Center and Symphony Hall since MGM opened:

MGM events at MassMutual Center:

  • Stevie Wonder – Sept. 1, 2018
  • Bill Burr – Oct. 4, 2018
  • Comedy Get Down – Nov. 9, 2018
  • AHL All Star Skills Competition – Jan. 27, 2019
  • AHL All Star Classic – Jan. 28, 2019
  • Cher – April 30, 2019
  • Aerosmith – Aug. 21, 24, 26 and 29, 2019
  • Slayer – Nov. 8, 2019
  • Funny-As-Ish Mike Epps – Nov. 9, 2019
  • Red Sox Winter Weekend – Jan. 17-29, 2020
  • Kem & Kenny BabyFace – April 1, 2022
  • John Mulaney – June 9, 2022
  • Staind – Sept. 11, 2022
  • Kat Williams – Nov. 18, 2022
  • Red Sox Winter Weekend – Jan. 20-22, 2023
  • Tina Fey & Amy Poehler – June 8, 2023.
  • Bruno Mars – June 10-11, 2023
  • Santana – Aug. 6, 2023
  • Bill Burr – Aug. 12, 2023
  • Jon Stewart, John Mulaney and Pete Davidson – Sept. 8, 2023
  • Bill Burr – Oct. 1, 2023

2018 highlights:

  • Dropkick Murphys – Aug. 25 (Plaza)
  • Aaron Lewis – Sept. 9 (Symphony Hall)

2019 Highlights:

  • Hanson – June 8 (Plaza)
  • Aziz Ansari – July 6 (Symphony Hall)
  • Boyz II Men – Sept. 22 (Symphony Hall)
  • Steve Martin & Martin Short – Sept. 12 (Symphony Hall)
  • Smokey Robinson – Oct. 18 (Symphony Hall)
  • 2020 Highlights: (Note: these events were limited due to Covid-19)
  • Matt Fraser – Jan. 11 (Ballroom)
  • LaLas Burlesque – Jan. 31 (Ballroom)

2021 Highlights: (Note: Covid-19 restrictions lasted most of the year)

  • Chicago – Oct. 6 (Symphony Hall)
  • Brian Regan – Nov. 12 (Symphony Hall)
  • Cirque Holiday Musical (Symphony Hall)

2022 Highlights:

  • Killer Queen – March 5 (Ballroom)
  • Boyz II Men – March 13 (Symphony Hall)
  • Tom Segura – March 20 (Symphony Hall)
  • Chelsea Handler – June 17 (Symphony Hall)
  • Jay Leno – June 25 (Symphony Hall)
  • Backroads Blues Festival Ft Buddy Guy – Aug. 18 (Symphony Hall)
  • Chris Isaak – Nov. 26 (Ballroom)
  • Thunder from Down Under – Dec. 3 (Ballroom)

2023 Highlights:

  • The Commodores – May 5 (Ballroom)
  • The Temptations and the Four Tops – May 21 (Symphony Hall)
  • Gladys Knight – July 15 (Symphony Hall)

Future shows in 2023:

  • Killer Queen – Sept. 24 (Ballroom)
  • A Bronx Tale – Oct. 14 (Ballroom)
  • AJ Croce: Croce Plays Croce – Oct. 27 (ballroom)
  • Brit Floyd – Oct. 29
  • Chelsea Handler – Nov. 18
  • Aaron Lewis – Dec. 8

ROAR Comedy Club:

Free Music Fridays: