Mike Dobbs’ coverage of the splashy unveiling of Penn National’s North End casino proposal didn’t appear until six days after the Dec. 20 event; thus is the challenge of a weekly newspaper.
Still, Dobbs’ report, in the Reminder, was a must read, providing a valuable alternative to the Springfield Republican’s coverage of the same event. That article, by reporter Dan Ring, provided many of the same colorful details as Dobbs’ coverage of the reception at the Paramount Theater: the costumed showgirls, the red carpet, the presence of retired football star Doug Flutie, who has said he’d open a sports bar in the casino.
But I was struck by one pretty interesting detail in the Reminder article that didn’t make it into the Republican story: namely, that the newspaper company’s publisher, George Arwady, was introduced at the event as a “partner” in the project. Penn National plans to buy the newspaper’s current building on Main Street for its proposed site, an arrangement that raises lots of sticky questions about how the paper can offer impartial coverage of a matter in which it holds such a significant financial interest.
Penn National and rival casino developer MGM have until Jan. 3 to submit proposals to Mayor Domenic Sarno, who will decide later that month whether to begin negotiations with one or both of the companies. Any proposed agreements will go before Springfield voters for approval.