Foxwoods, MGM announce end to licensing agreement

In this Dec. 7, 2007, Day file photo, workers put the finishing touches on the 8-foot tall by 78-foot wide MGM GRAND marquee atop the new MGM hotel and casino tower at Foxwoods.
Buy Photo Sean D. Elliot/The Day file photo In this Dec. 7, 2007, Day file photo, workers put the finishing touches on the 8-foot tall by 78-foot wide MGM GRAND marquee atop the new MGM hotel and casino tower at Foxwoods.

Mashantucket — Foxwoods Resort Casino is parting company with Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International, announcing the end of the licensing agreement that enabled Foxwoods to brand its second casino tower MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

The parties have agreed on a six-month period for Foxwoods to "transition" from use of the brand, which features a roaring lion's head logo.

"Neither party expects a material impact due to the end of the agreement," the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns Foxwoods, said in a statement released Friday at the end of the business day.

The tribe and MGM — then known as MGM Mirage — signed the agreement in 2006, at a time when both were eager to pursue gaming opportunities in the Northeast. MGM Grand, built next to the tribe's Foxwoods Resort Casino complex at a cost of more than $700 million, opened in May 2008 just as the effects of the Great Recession were beginning to be felt.

Scott Butera, Foxwoods president and chief executive officer, said Friday's announcement was related to an ongoing Foxwoods makeover. "We wanted to consolidate our property under the Foxwoods brand," he said. "It made sense to focus our marketing dollars on one brand as opposed to two."

Foxwoods has recently renovated its Grand Pequot Tower, overhauled the casino's main concourse area and last month broke ground on construction of the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods, a mall connecting the Grand Pequot and MGM Grand towers.

"When we looked at the master plan for the resort and our current opportunities, it was obvious that the iconic brand of Foxwoods needed to be at the forefront of our transformation," Butera said.

Both parties were "mutually agreeable" to the dissolution of the Foxwoods-MGM licensing agreement, said Clark Dumont, an MGM spokesman. He noted that MGM hopes to develop a resort casino in Springfield, Mass., which is less than 80 miles from Foxwoods.

"With MGM working toward a significant presence on the East Coast, it was the opportune time to review our relationship (with Foxwoods) and dissolve the licensing agreement," Dumont said. At this point, he added, the relationship involved only the licensing of the MGM Grand name and "no operating revenues."

Originally, the "strategic alliance" reached between the parties in 2006 called for them to collaborate on projects off the Mashantucket reservation. No such projects materialized.

Foxwoods also is involved in a Massachusetts casino proposal. It heads a partnership seeking a license to build a $1 billion project in the Greater Boston town of Milford.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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