Mohegan Sun is not waiting patiently by to see what the next competition is, or what the next trend is in the casino world. They are actively pushing their brand forward, and in the process, building what they see are immediate needs to visitors and the local communities.
This is in direct conflict with casino construction in America recently. Big mega-resorts are not the norm any more – although Wynn Boston Harbor & MGM
Springfield in New England as well as MGM National Harbor in the D.C. area. Two of the latest casino interests are:
- The Convenience Casino – Smaller, local casinos with less amenities, a few restaurants and mostly slots, if not all slots. For many a slot player, convenience trumps the amenities that make up the gaming “experience.” Close to home gets the nod.
Especially if you can’t get to the major hubs of Las Vegas, AC, or Biloxi. Examples are Plainridge Park, in Plainville, MA., and numerous racinos and riverboat casinos throughout the country.
- The Urban Casino –
They are built, usually in already existing buildings, although major renovations or completely new buildings like MGM Springfield, are also included. Detroit has made good on the small “urban casino” projects. They are built in an already existing Downtown area, made to fit in the existing landscape of the city, and are not dependent upon having a hotel.
- The Boutique Casino – a fairly vague answer to the Mega-Casinos of Las Vegas. Basically, they are a smaller, quaint, not necessarily a chain or a franchise hotel, where the hotel and casino are downsized. The Cromwell in Las Vegas is a good example.
Still, Mohegan Sun, a mega-resort/casino, pushes on as the antithesis of those trends.
Retail, Water Park, Senior Living and more in Preston
Kathleen McWilliams, a reporter for the Hartford Courant, recently reported the “plan for the former Norwich Hospital site in Preston CT, (just across the river from the casino), [will be made] into a dozen amenities, including an indoor water park, a senior living center and a sports complex. This huge plan also includes include outdoor and indoor entertainment attractions, a large performing venue, time share units, retail, an RV park and marina. The plan includes restaurant space, a convenience store and gas station.”
“With up to $600 million in possible development, we will stimulate growth, drive new business and help strengthen the local economy,” Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown said, referring to the 393-acre brownfield site that has been vacant since the state shuttered the hospital’s doors in 1996. The property was sold by the state to Preston in 2009 for $1. $20 million, including $9 million from the state, has been spent cleaning up the property and demolishing dozens of buildings to make way for new development.
Is this designed to make the the casino a bigger attraction? Not really. Mohegan Tribal Chairman Kevin Brown said the intentions are:
- to offer options for Mohegan Sun visitors who aren’t as interested in gambling.
- to add at least 750 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent full time positions.
- to solidify Mystic country in southeastern Connecticut as a top tourism destination
- a big step forward that will allow the town to double its grand list, said Preston First Selectman Bob Congdon
The Earth Tower
Recently, the Mohegan Tribe opened of the Earth Tower. The main reasons for The Earth Tower? – competition from other casinos and the need for more rooms attached. The tribe says it has turned away 1 million room requests in just the last year. Consideration to the many conventioneers was completed this fall. (Look for a review next week, after a brief stay in the Earth Tower.) A previous post discussions the opening – Earth Hotel Opens at Mohegan Sun
Conference Center Expansion
Long before they christened their second hotel tower a couple of months ago, Mohegan Sun officials were engaged in planning another relatively modest expansion, this one an $80 million conference center. “It’s not definite that it’s a go, but we’re in the advanced planning stages,” said Bobby Soper, president and chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. He said the planning began a year ago.
According to Brian Hallenbeck, of the New London Day, “The proposed Mohegan Sun Expo Center…..Mohegan Sun officials believe would enable the casino to capture most of the 85,000 “room nights” a year it now turns away because of a lack of meeting space. Last June’s “highly successful” Barrett-Jackson collector car auction, held at Mohegan Sun Arena, “validates the proposition…” The proposed conference center would be located in a vacant area next to the casino’s Winter Garage and would link the garage, the Earth Casino and the Earth Tower “Everything will be under one roof,” Soper said. “Whether you’re staying at Earth, or Sky or visiting the conference center, it’s going to be all under one roof.”
MMCT & CT’s 3rd Casino
All this while the Mohegan Tribe is slowly trying to add a third casino in the Bradley Airport in a joint venture with the Mashentucket Pequots of Foxwoods fame. The MMCT was formed by the two tribes to to propose the third casino. Progress in choosing the location has set-back plans and dulled support.
So, Mohegan Sun is not finished in building out of the recession. As MGM Springfield is keeping the the rejuvination of the city of Springfield, MA. in its sights, so does the Mohegan tribe in expanding the tourist industry for southeast Connecticut, and the state as a whole.