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Meeting Planners Consider Springfirld First

Meeting planners seeking big city amenities at smaller city prices, the ideal facility, and the infrastructure and services to host their event successfully need look no further than the MassMutual Center, located in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Center, a Global Spectrum-managed facility owned by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, provides a 40,000-sq. ft. exhibition hall, a 15,000-sq. ft. ballroom, 9,000 square feet of flexible meeting room space and a newly renovated 8,000-seat arena. Nearly 1,000 first-class hotel rooms are within easy walking distance of the facility, and an additional 6,400 hotel rooms are located in the region, known as the Pioneer Valley.

Located at “The Crossroads of New England,” (the intersections of Interstate 90, The Mass Pike, and Interstate 91), the Center is also easily reached from Bradley International Airport, which is 20 minutes south in Connecticut. There are also Amtrak rail and Peter Pan Bus stations a few blocks north of the venue.

Since its re-opening in 2005, the Center has witnessed an increasingly busy roster of groups and conventions. One significant booking that was recently awarded was the 2015 National Square Dance Convention. “The preparation and presentation that landed this prestigious group was enormous,” recalled Alicia Szenda, director of sales for the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Our Springfield FIRST team pulled together for a perfectly-themed pitch and flew to Detroit to present it at the group’s annual convention, where we were pitted against Kansas City, Missouri. We rallied representatives from the leading hotels to join us, created an in-depth presentation outlining our plans to accommodate the group that focused on their every need, and even brought inscribed cowbells bearing our city’s name. No detail went unnoticed.”

“We pride ourselves on the level of creativity found here when it comes to making our space as flexible as possible to meet every group’s needs, even to the point of changing its appearance dramatically,” said Marissa Skibbe, director of marketing at the MassMutual Center. “Recently we were in discussions with New England Farmers Union to host their 2013 National Convention and on the day they arrived on-site, we had converted our ballroom to resemble a farmer’s market, complete with herb garden, wooden crates and fresh, local produce. The group was thrilled to see that we had incorporated their livelihood into every aspect of our presentation, and happily agreed to let us host their event.”

Skibbe is also quick to note that another helpful aspect in securing groups is the range of hospitality services offered by the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau (GSCVB), including V.I.P. gift baskets, electronic welcoming messages, volunteer-staffed information tables at events and a myriad of other extras. The Bureau works closely with the MassMutual Center to stay apprised of the unique hospitality requests from each group, and ensure that they are fulfilled.

The Springfield FIRST sales team is comprised of Skibbe, Szenda and several other key personnel from the Center, the Bureau and other downtown venues that service attendees of meetings and conventions. The group’s web site,, helps meeting planners in their venue selection process by offering detailed information about all areas within the MassMutual Center, as well as hotel information, access to Springfield, transportation options and special event venues. The site also allows viewers to preview and print floor plans and specs, area maps, and other information critical to event planning.

The city of Springfield has a number of attractions and endless entertainment options for convention and meeting guests. In addition to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden and the Springfield Armory National Historic Site, visitors can enjoy theater and symphony performances, a variety of restaurant options and a thriving nightlife in the downtown area. Other major attractions in the surrounding region, which is known as the Pioneer Valley, include Six Flags New England and Yankee Candle Village, as well as charming and eclectic college towns, kayaking, canoeing and ziplining facilities, hiking trails, and a high concentration of museums and galleries.

To inquire about bringing your group to the Pioneer Valley, contact Director of Sales Alicia Szenda at the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau at (413) 755-1346 or For additional information about leisure tours to enjoy the region while your group is in town, contact Taryn Siciliano, convention services coordinator at the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau at (413) 755-1370 or

Meetings and conventions are handled with the utmost of professionalism when they take place in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley. Top-notch facilities and personalized hospitality services are yours when you book your group through the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. For regional information, visit the Bureau’s web site at

The GSCVB, an affiliate of the Economic Development Council of Western MA, is a private non-profit destination marketing organization dedicated to promoting Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley for meetings and conventions, group tours and leisure travel.