Foxwoods CEO says outlet mall is a go
Foxwoods Resort Casino has stabilized its finances and is moving forward with an 85-store outlet center, President and Chief Executive Scott Butera said Thursday.
Butera said Foxwoods plans to break ground this summer on the project, a 320,000-square-foot mall with a retractable roof being planned by Greenwich developer Sheldon Gordon on land to be leased from the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. The project would take about two years to complete, he said.
"It will have retailers that are very prominent yet new to this area," he said during an online chat on theday.com. "It will allow us to provide our customers with upscale merchandise that will differentiate us from most other casino operators."
Butera said several hundred jobs would be created during the development and operational phases of the project.
The premium outlet center is being planned as Butera says the casino has been working on a deal with creditors to put Foxwoods back on an even financial keel. Faced with a slowdown in the economy and a mountain of bills tied to its MGM Grand at Foxwoods expansion completed in 2008, the casino has dealt with financial difficulties over the past few years that forced it to restructure hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.
"We have had very productive discussions with all of our creditors and I believe we are reaching a resolution in the near term," he said. "We have concluded negotiations and are focusing on the process of completing the transaction."
Butera said planned expansions of gambling operations in nearby states, particularly Rhode Island and Massachusetts, would force changes in Foxwoods' business plan.
"We clearly believe that supply growth is outpacing demand," Butera said. "We will need to adjust our businesses accordingly."
One of the adjustments, he said, may include adding online gaming to the mix.
"We expect additional venues and online gaming to be a part of our future, but right now it is more about being creative with regard to our gaming, food and beverage and entertainment operations," he said.
Foxwoods includes four hotels, six casinos and more than 6,000 slot machines. The casino's revenues of $5.5 billion have slid by 5 percent so far this year when compared to the same period in 2011, The Associated Press reported.
Foxwoods' payments to tribal members were halted earlier this year as part of austerity measures imposed in the wake of the casino's financial troubles.
Butera, a casino turnaround specialist, listed his recruitment of a new management team, implementation of a revamped advertising scheme and plans to improve its food, beverage and retail offerings as some of his accomplishments in the past year. The casino also has added more than 1,000 slot machines.
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