Mohegan Sun says proposed Palmer casino would spur development

An artist's rendering of the proposed Mohegan Sun casino in Palmer, Mass., was released Monday.
An artist's rendering of the proposed Mohegan Sun casino in Palmer, Mass., was released Monday.

Palmer, Mass. — Mohegan Sun executives told local officials and residents Monday night that the $600 million resort casino they hope to build here would be accompanied by another $150 million to $175 million worth of development on the 150-acre site.

Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said the casino operator is working with partners to create amenities that would complement rather than compete with existing attractions — such as museums and theaters — in the surrounding area.

He told the Town Council and an audience of more than 200 that he could not specify the projects being contemplated. He said the proposed casino would also be "a catalyst" for economic development on adjacent property that's beyond Mohegan Sun's control.

Mohegan Sun also announced it's adopting a new name and brand for its casino project, now dubbed Mohegan Sun Massachusetts.

"We will deliver jobs, revenue, economic growth and memorable experiences for visitors from all over the Northeast — and from every corner of the commonwealth," Etess said.

The marketing campaign includes a new logo, an updated website, a direct-mail newsletter and social media functions. Drawing on Palmer's railroading history — it's known as the "Town of Seven Railroads" — the Mohegan Sun Massachusetts logo features a railroad track motif.

Etess and other Mohegan Sun representatives stressed Mohegan Sun's status as the only New England-based operator competing for a western Massachusetts casino license and the only operator with experience developing a resort casino in a rural setting.

Residents aired concerns about the proposed casino's impact on traffic in the vicinity of Exit 8 of the Massachusetts Turnpike and Route 32, and whether the development could operate as a resort aside from gaming.

Etess offered assurances that gaming continues to be a successful industry. He said Mohegan Sun's Palmer site is at the epicenter of a market of 11 million adults living in New England and New York.

Mohegan Sun and Palmer officials have been working on a "host community agreement" for 14 months, a process expected to lead to a referendum vote on the casino proposal by the end of the year. Mohegan Sun must secure local approval before submitting a final application to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Mohegan Sun also announced the launch of a new event series: "Working At and Working With Mohegan Sun: A Community Conversation." Designed to answer questions and provide a foundation of knowledge about employment and vendor relationships with Mohegan Sun, the series will feature current Mohegan Sun employees, human resources representatives and vendors.

The new brand launch follows Mohegan Sun's announcement in January of its strategic partnership with Brigade Capital Management, a $12 billion New York-based investment adviser. Etess said the partnership gives Mohegan Sun the strongest financial platform of any casino operators pursuing a license in western Massachusetts.

MGM Resorts International of Las Vegas and Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing, Pa., have proposed casinos for Springfield, while Orlando, Fla.-based Hard Rock International would build one in West Springfield.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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