Connecticut Casino Proposals Running out of Time

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

Kevin Brown, left, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council and Rodney Butler, right, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council,

According to the Kenneth Gosselin of the Hartford Courant, the tribes that operate the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos are seeking to jointly open and operate a gaming venue in the capital region to blunt competition from a megacasino now under construction in nearby Springfield. But to be honest, MGM continues to tweak it’s “megacasino” in a way more like downsizing the project due to the threat of Connecticut’s third casino. Click here for

Foxwoods/ Mohegan Sun Joint Casino, East Hartford, CT

Artist Rendering of renovated Cinemas building for New Mohegan Sun/Foxwoods Casino

For the past month, the Mohegans and Mashantucket Pequots have sought proposals from towns and cities.  The tribes said late last week that they don’t intend to announce the names of the municipalities submitting proposals when the deadline passes Friday at 4 p.m. But at least East Hartford and East Windsor appear locked in.

Bradley International Airport sign

Bradley International Airport & Casino not in the cards.

Previous considerations for Windsor Locks at Bradley International Airport and the Enfield Mall were voted down by town officials and residents.

The Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans envision a casino with 2,000 slot machines and 100 to 150 tables, with an estimated development cost of $200 million to $300 million. The size of the casino and other amenities would range from 150,000 to 350,000 square feet, with the latter half the size of MGM Springfield.

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

Cinema in East Windsor for proposed casino.

East Windsor is the new entrant into the Satellite Sweepstakes. Denise Menard, East Windsor’s first selectman, said the town will propose a casino at another shuttered Showcase Cinema visible from I-91, about 8 miles from the East Hartford theater and a 12-minute drive away, and an adjoining property where there was once a Wal-Mart.

Both East Hartford and East Windsor have access to main interstate I-91, with East Hartford also having I-84 crossing in front of it.

The deadline passes after Friday, 4:00pm.

A few other posts along the MGM lines included:

Massachusetts More Worried, Not Mohegan Sun,  About New England’s Casino Share

Can Jim Murren; MGM Resorts Be Trusted in Springfield?

Binbin

CT Casino At Bradley Airport is Absurd

Bradley International Airport sign
Bradley International Airport & Casino?

The Associated Press reported that the head of the Connecticut Airport Authority wants to bring a casino to Bradley International Airport.

“The airport represents a very viable location because of its significant levels of passenger traffic, and the CAA believes a casino can be incorporated into improvements that are being advanced for the terminal campus area,” said Kevin Dillon, the airport authority’s executive director.

southern New England

Location, Location, Location

However, Bradley Airport the 55th busiest airport in the country and only have 6 carriers in and out of it’s terminals at this time. ( I am counting American & American Eagle, for example as one company.)  The fact that fares are relatively higher on these carriers compared to New York or Boston. and are similar in status to Greene in Warwick, Rhode Island, have slowed any growth that was hoped for.  It is in the process of tearing down the old Terminal B.

Bradley Airports Terminal B, slated for demolition.

Bradley Airports Terminal B, slated for demolition.

For the latest update on the proposed renovation project at Bradley Airport from the Hartford Courant, click here.

I believe the Connecticut Airport Authority sees easy dollar signs prancing across the airport terminals without realizing what the State of CT is looking for to slot revenue. I also believe they don’t understand the clientele.

As the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans working together to pursue a third property to compete to hold expected job and revenue losses going to the MGM casino planned across the state line, in Springfield, Massachusetts, state officials are looking to stave off one thing – loss of slot revenue to Massachusetts. For an earlier post to review, check out “Connecticut Casino Plans Continue to Take Shape.”

The airport is not the best place for the state’s financial needs – but maybe for the Bradley’s financial needs, which is why the CAA is pushing it for the third casino’s home. Why is it a bad idea for CT’s third casino?  Read on…..

  1. Gamblers want to visit casinos with little hassle and plenty of time to eat, drink and play in a comfortable environment. Fighting airport traffic, parking, noise and the general controlled chaos at any airport discourages gamblers that would spend the money that CT is looking for.  
  2. The transient crowd of passengers from the airport will not provide the revenue CT is looking for.
  3. Let’s face it, having a choice between a snazzy, new casino off the highway, or a snazzy new casino sharing space with an Airport away from the highway, (and they are 15 minutes away from each other) most gamblers will decide on the former, not the latter.

downloadWindsor Locks, the town where the airport is located, has been asked to consider working with the airport authority on the proposal.  A month ago, the community of South Windsor voted not to entertain any casino proposal in their town.  Community backing is a must. Will Windsor Locks vote differently?

AP reports “Windsor Locks First Selectman Steven Wawruck Jr. said the potential drawbacks to hosting a casino would have to be discussed but he is interested in exploring the prospects. ‘With shrinking state revenues and jobs on the decline, it’s important to explore all opportunities and keep dollars and jobs in Connecticut,’ he said.”

Explore all opportunities and keep dollars and jobs in Connecticut. That’s the point. If Connecticut wants to keep jobs & revenue, then traffic access, availability to build, community support, and a quick turnaround for operation are the main criteria for the third casino.

An airport and a mall in Enfield just won’t do.  East Hartford is the best offer so far.

But, what do you think? I challenge you to comment on two questions:

Is a third casino good for CT? Why or Why not?

and

Where should it be built – Enfield Mall, East Hartford Showcase Theater, or Bradley International Airport?

Send me a comment on your thoughts.

Binbin

 

 

Connecticut Casino Plans Continue Taking Shape

Mashentucket/Mohegan Joint Casino Venture

Three Possible Homes for Mashentucket/Mohegan Joint Casino Venture – Picture Credited to FOXCT News.

Enfield or East Hartford?  Where will the new CT Casino land? The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes said at their joint signing ceremony Sept. 10 that they wanted a location selected by the end of November.  It is expected that any casino in north-central Connecticut would include 2,000 slots and 100 to 150 table games. The goal is to open before MGM Springfield begins operations in 2018.

The Old Showcase Cinemas, East Hartford, CT

The Old Showcase Cinemas, East Hartford, CT

The first out of the gate was the old Showcase cinemas on Silver Lane in East Hartford.  Last Wednesday, planning and zoning commissioners approved a plan for a restaurant and entertainment venue development at the vacant movie theater.     Review the previous post concerning the the East Hartford proposal here.

Foxwoods/ Mohegan Sun Joint Casino, East Hartford, CT

Artist Rendering of renovated Cinemas building for New Mohegan Sun/Foxwoods Casino

According to reporter Mikaela Porter of  The Hartford Courant, “Developer Anthony W. Ravosa Jr. of Glastonbury, a member of Silver Lane Partners LLC, said that Wednesday’s approval was the first of a proposed two-phase plan to create a $200 million gaming facility at the site.”

Meanwhile, Enfield Square Mall wants to be the site of that casino and is offering a plan to Enfield City Council. Ms. Porter previously reported Enfield Square Mall management pitched a casino proposal to town councilors, calling it an “opportunity to create a new story” for the mall and community.

Enfield Square Mall, a 787,000-square-foot mall off the I-91 ramp at Exit 48, includes retailers, including Target and Macy’s, restaurants like Outback and Ruby Tuesdays and a 55,000-square-foot movie theater. Madison Marquette Real Estate Services owns the mall.

Enfield Square Mall

Enfield Square Mall – Possible sight for third CT casino.

But, East Hartford & Enfield would have the best access to major traffic routes – I-84 & I-92 respectively.  East Hartford seems the better of the two with a dedicated venue for just the casino – Enfield casino proposal would be sharing the with stores still alive in the Mall. Believe it or not, this concept has already worked.  Outside of Baltimore, Maryland Live! Casino shares their casino venue as part of a mall and it is the casino making the highest revenue for the state of Maryland.  So while the concept sounds weird, it has already proven to work.

 

Enfield Square Mall

                                                     This Macy’s would be the casino.            ^Hotel here                                                                                              Parking Garage here.

The proposal at the Enfield Square Mall includes a two-level casino in the 150,000+ sq. ft. space in the Macy’s at the bottom of the image below. Extending out from the mall, between the proposed casino and the Sears store would be a 300 room, 6 story, luxury hotel. An additional parking garage connected to both hotel and casino would extend further below the casino (Macy’s).

Finally, while East Hartford & Enfield seem viable candidates for the new casino, South Windsor has all along been letting the rest know that they are VERY interested in being home to Connecticut’s third casino.  The Town Council voted unanimously, but but still wait for the town’s approval through referendum.

That’s all for now.  For all of Mikaela Porter’s Hartford Courant Coverage, click here.

Binbin

 

 

 

Third Casino News, Carlos Bakery at Mohegan, and Fox Tower Plans

While Massachusetts has dominated the casino news in New England of late, the Connecticut casinos have also had their share of news.  In case you were away this week here’s a look:

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The tribal chairman of the the Mohegan Tribe Kevin Brown and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe Rodney Butler. Photo by WTIC’s Matt Dwyer.

Joint Casino One Step Closer – Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequots, and Kevin Brown, the Mohegan tribal chairman, announced at a signing ceremony at the Capitol the selection of a Connecticut real estate firm to administer the tribes’ request for proposals for a jointly operated casino. It would be established along the Interstate 91 corridor in north-central Connecticut.  This joint “satellite” casino has been a quest by CT legislators to keep revenue and jobs from traveling over the border to Massachusetts.   The MGM Springfield casino is expected to open late 2018. Jim Murren of MGM earlier dismissed the “box of slots” idea, but has seemingly taken in more seriously as a threat to MGM Springfield by suing the state of CT on the principle of the joint venture set on off tribal land.  Most feel this is just a way to bide time until MGM Springfield is up and running, so CT’s satellite casino can’t get a head-start.

The casino in the Fox Tower at Foxwoods, formerly MGM, is going through major renovations, including:

  • Expansion of the Center Bar, including a larger dance floor and entertainment space, larger bar and more bar-top gaming.
    Center Bar at Fox Tower before renovations.

    Center Bar at Fox Tower before renovations.

    A temporary bar has been built in the previous space where the Foxwoods Rewards Desk once was.

  • The Foxwoods Rewards Desk has now been moved to the opposite side of the casino and is slightly larger.
  • The large posts left over from MGM’s design are being changed
    Large bulky posts in Fox Tower now under construction.

    Large bulky posts in Fox Tower now under construction.

    to less intimidating structures to provide a more spacious feel to the casino while improving sightlines to the casino from the Tanger Outlets entrance.

thToday, September 12th, is the Grand Opening of Carlo’s Bakery at Mohegan Sun.
This is the bakery’s first New England location.

Finally, Channel 3 News, WFSB, in Connecticut, reported that eyes for the Satellite casino have now shifted to Enfield. The potential casino developer told the town on Tuesday that it is willing to invest up to $200 million in developing a casino as part of the redevelopment of the Enfield Square Mall.

Casino proposed for Enfield mall (WFSB)

Casino proposed for Enfield mall (WFSB)

Connecticut Officials Given Extended Time to MGM Legal Suit

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy

Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy

Gov. Dannel Malloy, Secretary of State Denise Merrill and Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Jonathan Harris will have until Oct. 1 to prepare for the legal suit by MGM Resorts International over the state’s plan to build a new tribal gaming facility.  MGM’s filed a lawsuit on August 11  that accused the state of unconstitutionally favoring Connecticut Indian tribes in its newly-passed gaming bill. The original deadline was Sept. 1.

imagesConnecticut Federal District Court Judge Alvin Thompson explained that “…due to the nature of Plaintiff’s claims and the press of other business in both the state and federal courts, the undersigned requires additional time to prepare an appropriate response.”  MGM did not oppose the extension, the motion said, and the Connecticut officials were granted the extension.  I actually they would have hoped for a further deadline to bide more time since their property is now scheduled for late 2018!

The amendment to the Connecticut law allows the Mohegan & Pequot tribes currently operating their own casinos under federal Indian gaming law to issue a request for proposals for a new casino. Any municipality in the state could respond and negotiate a development deal with the tribes. MGM calls this unconstitutional, saying “…by authorizing the new casino on state rather than tribal land, the restriction is illegal race-based discrimination and unfairly prevents out-of-state companies from seeking the new license.”

One possible property available now is the closed Showcase Cinemas in East Hartford off of I-84

One possible property available now is the closed Showcase Cinemas in East Hartford off of I-84

The law is specific in who is eligible to build the new casino: a business entity “owned exclusively by both the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut.”  It’s intentions is to keep jobs and gambling revenue in the state.

MGM’s intentions could be many:

  1. To get a chance for a casino in Connecticut, even though they pulled out the partnership with Foxwoods a few years ago.
  2. To waste Connecticut’s time in litigation so that the Satellite casino run by both tribes can’t get a running start at controlling the I-91 corridor minutes from Springfield.
  3. To slow a reaction by CT to the impending threat of Massachusetts gaming which through naivete or arrogance, MGM disregarded as a consideration.

October 1st – more fireworks to come!

That’s all for now.

Binbin

Foxwoods Mashentucket Pequot Museum Reopens

th (19)This past May 15th & 16th, the Mashentucket Pequots had a Grand Re-opening of the nationally renown Pequot Museum & Research Center.  The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, part of the government of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, is a non-profit educational institution that seeks to further knowledge and understanding of the richness and diversity of the indigenous cultures and societies of the United States and Canada.

Tribally owned-and-operated since it opened on Aug. 11, 1998. the Museum brings to life the story of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. It serves as a major resource on the histories and cultures of Native Americans in the northeast and on the region’s rich natural history.

The Museum is a 308,000-square-foot complex, consisting of permanent exhibits, the Mashantucket Gallery (a gallery for temporary exhibits), classrooms, a 320-seat auditorium, a restaurant, a museum shop and administrative offices. The Research Center houses collections, a library, a children’s library, archives, and archaeology and conservation laboratories.

Multi-sensory dioramas and exhibits introduce visitors to the history of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the natural and cultural history of the eastern woodlands. Films and videos, interactive programs, archival materials, ethnographic and archaeological collections, commissioned art, and traditional crafts by Native artisans are featured in the exhibits.

Some upcoming special presentations and exhibits include:

Mission Mishoon

th (21)10:00am Fri May 29th – 4:00pm Sat May 30th / 10:00am Fri Jun 5th – 4:00pm Sat Jun 6th – Wampanoag canoe makers are shaping to a 36-foot tulip tree log with fire! (“Mishoon” is the Wampanoag word for boat, or canoe.) Visit the Museum’s Farmstead to talk to the canoe makers, and learn about the skills and traditions of canoe making. See a 400-year-old dugout canoe in the Museum exhibits. Free with Museum admission. Donations welcome.

17th Century Encampment: Living History

9:00am Fri Jun 26th – 4:00pm Sat Jun 27th – Experience 17th c. European/Colonial and Native cultures, military and civilian, from the Pequot War (1636-1637) and King Philip’s War (1675-1677) periods. Witness musket and bow shooting demonstrations; campfire cooking; lithic tool making; flint knapping demonstrations; period blacksmithing; and English militia drills. Free with Museum admission. Supported in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum & Library Services, and by the Institute for American Indian Studies.

Powwow!

Bird's Eye View

Bird’s Eye View

11:00am – 3:00pm Thu Jul 9th – This annual educational powwow will be an unforgettable experience for you and your family. Emcee Wayne Reels (Mashantucket Pequot) explains the different dances, powwow etiquette, and the significance this cultural gathering holds for Native people. See dancers in their colorful regalia. Join in a social dance and visit with Native artists as they demonstrate and sell works of art. Try some Native cuisine for lunch. Gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the powwow experience and how it helps sustain a sense of community for America’s first people. Grand entry is at 11 am and 1 pm in the air-conditioned Gathering Space. Free with Museum admission and free for Pequot Museum members.

It’s a great place to visit with the whole family.  Open Wed.–Sat., 9 am–5 pm, last admission at 4 pm. Visit website for seasonal closure details.
Prices  – Adults $20; Seniors (65+) $15; College students $15; Youth (6-17) $12; Members & Children under 6 Free.
That’s all for now.
Binbin

Foxwoods Retail Could Be a Real Cure for Expected Competition

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Artist rendering of Tanger Outlet entrance from Fox Tower Casino area

My first impression of Foxwoods Resort’s Tanger Outlets project was that it was a desperate act to have something different.  I mean, who’s going to go to the woods of southeastern CT just shop?  and would it really increase traffic to the casino part of the resort?

First, let’s review the project.

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Artist rendering inside the Outlets

thExecutives at Foxwoods Resort Casino reached out to Gordon Group Holdings about five years ago to develop an outlet mall at the casino. Gordon Group brought in Tanger Outlets for branding, and an 18-month construction period will end just in time for Memorial Day weekend. The finished project will be an enclosed quarter-mile corridor with 82 retail shops that customers are only able to enter by walking through one side or the other of Foxwoods Resort Casino. One side is connected to the casino floor by the Fox Tower and the other is near the Grand Pequot Casino. The list of tenants announced so far includes American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Calvin Klein, Coach, Eddie Bauer Outlet, Fossil, Gap Outlet, H&M, Kay Jewelers Outlet, Loft Outlet, Michael Kors, Nike Factory Store, Skechers, Steve Madden and Tommy Hilfiger.

It occurred to me recently that this might be a bigger help than I thought for Foxwoods financial woes – and the evidence came from Las Vegas. Continue reading