Mohegan Sun pitches Suffolk Downs casino to Mass. gaming regulators

Mohegan Sun executives told gaming regulators Wednesday that they could build a Greater Boston casino faster than their competition could erect one, immediately tap a database of millions of New England gamers and save the Suffolk Downs racetrack and the 1,400 jobs it sustains.

In a 90-minute presentation timed to the second, the Mohegan Sun Massachusetts team touted its $1.4 billion proposal for the city of Revere, where the plan is subject to a Feb. 25 referendum vote. Mohegan Sun speakers referred only in passing to “the other applicant” for the one Greater Boston license the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to award this spring.

Later, gaming magnate Steve Wynn, the other applicant, scoffed at what he repeatedly referred to as “Suffolk Downs,” telling the commission his properties in Las Vegas and Macau, China, are recognized as the gaming industry’s best and vowing to duplicate their quality in the city of Everett, where he’s proposed a $1.6 billion casino.

He derided the low-slung design of Mohegan Sun’s project and stressed his company’s financial strength and experience.

“Our credentials are what’s important,” Wynn said near the end of a presentation that lasted slightly less than an hour.

Commission members asked no questions of the applicants.

Mitchell Etess, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority’s chief executive officer, led Mohegan Sun’s presentation, which featured several video segments. Afterward, he said he thought the pitch went well.

“We feel really good about it,” he said. “We really were able to convey the breadth of the project, the culture of the company and the idea that we’re good neighbors. We made all the critical points.

“The response of the live audience was great.”

An overflow crowd spilled from a meeting room at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center during Mohegan Sun’s presentation, erupting in applause at the end. A smaller audience attended Wynn Resorts’ presentation and also clapped.

Mohegan Sun is leasing its Revere site from Suffolk Downs, the venerable thoroughbred track that straddles Revere and the Boston neighborhood of East Boston. Suffolk Downs officials have committed to maintaining the racetrack operation for at least 15 years if, and only if, Mohegan Sun is granted the casino license.

Mohegan Sun’s lease payments for the casino site would provide Suffolk Downs with the revenue it needs to keep operating the track, Suffolk Downs officials have said.

Etess, during Wednesday’s presentation, said Mohegan Sun could get a Revere casino “up and running” more quickly than Wynn Resorts could build its project because the Everett casino site, formerly occupied by a Monsanto chemical plant, must first be cleaned of contamination. Etess said Mohegan Sun Massachusetts could be built in 30 months, meaning it could open by the end of 2016.

Wynn Resorts, Etess said, has indicated its project would take 36 months to complete.

Etess also said the “New England know-how” Mohegan Sun has developed in operating Mohegan Sun in Uncasville would serve it well in Massachusetts. He said one of every six adults living within 60 miles of Revere already belongs to Mohegan Sun’s Player’s Club loyalty program. Those members, he said, could redeem Player’s Club points at more than 100 Revere-area businesses with which Mohegan Sun has struck deals.

The New Haven-born Wynn, who said much of his family hails from Revere, took a jab at Mohegan Sun’s presentation, saying he was “ashamed to admit I have no video.” Then, joking that his team had “whipped up a video as a defense mechanism,” he screened footage of one of his Las Vegas casinos, during which Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin could be heard crooning.

Wynn took offense to a suggestion that the Wynn high-rise proposed for Everett represented a “cookie-cutter” design. He said the “horizontality” of Mohegan Sun’s Revere project ran counter to established casino architecture.

“We learned long ago, that we wanted to make people walk less, not more,” Wynn said.

He also said Wynn Resorts has plenty of cash to finance its Everett project, saying he understood Mohegan Sun Massachusetts would be owned by “a hedge fund,” a reference to Mohegan Sun’s financial partner, Brigade Capital Management.

 

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

Mohegans make pitch in Mass.

 

Sun officials, Wynn give presentations for rival casino plans

By BRIAN HALLENBECK

Day Staff Writer

Mohegan Sun executives told gaming regulators Wednesday that they could build a Greater Boston casino faster than their competition could erect one, immediately tap a database of millions of New England gamers and save the Suffolk Downs racetrack and the 1,400 jobs it sustains.

In a 90-minute presentation timed to the second, the Mohegan Sun Massachusetts team touted its $1.4 billion proposal for the city of Revere, where the plan is subject to a Feb. 25 referendum vote. Mohegan Sun speakers referred only in passing to “the other applicant” for the one Greater Boston license the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is expected to award this spring.

Later, gaming magnate Steve Wynn, the other applicant, scoffed at what he repeatedly referred to as “Suffolk Downs,” telling the commission his properties in Las Vegas and Macau, China, are recognized as the gaming industry’s best and vowing to duplicate their quality in the city of Everett, where he’s proposed a $1.6 billion casino.

He derided the low-slung design of Mohegan Sun’s project and stressed his company’s financial strength and experience.

“Our credentials are what’s important,” Wynn said near the end of a presentation that lasted slightly less than an hour.

Commission members asked no questions of the applicants.

Mitchell Etess, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority’s chief executive officer, led Mohegan Sun’s presentation, which featured several video segments. Afterward, he said he thought the pitch went well.

“We feel really good about it,” he said. “We really were able to convey the breadth of the project, the culture of the company and the idea that we’re good neighbors. We made all the critical points.

“The response of the live audience was great.”

An overflow crowd spilled from a meeting room at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center during Mohegan Sun’s presentation, erupting in applause at the end. A smaller audience attended Wynn Resorts’ presentation and also clapped.

Mohegan Sun is leasing its Revere site from Suffolk Downs, the venerable thoroughbred track that straddles Revere and the Boston neighborhood of East Boston. Suffolk Downs officials have committed to maintaining the racetrack operation for at least 15 years if, and only if, Mohegan Sun is granted the casino license.

Mohegan Sun’s lease payments for the casino site would provide Suffolk Downs with the revenue it needs to keep operating the track, Suffolk Downs officials have said.

Etess, during Wednesday’s presentation, said Mohegan Sun could get a Revere casino “up and running” more quickly than Wynn Resorts could build its project because the Everett casino site, formerly occupied by a Monsanto chemical plant, must first be cleaned of contamination. Etess said Mohegan Sun Massachusetts could be built in 30 months, meaning it could open by the end of 2016.

Wynn Resorts, Etess said, has indicated its project would take 36 months to complete.

Etess also said the “New England know-how” Mohegan Sun has developed in operating Mohegan Sun in Uncasville would serve it well in Massachusetts. He said one of every six adults living within 60 miles of Revere already belongs to Mohegan Sun’s Player’s Club loyalty program. Those members, he said, could redeem Player’s Club points at more than 100 Revere-area businesses with which Mohegan Sun has struck deals.

The New Haven-born Wynn, who said much of his family hails from Revere, took a jab at Mohegan Sun’s presentation, saying he was “ashamed to admit I have no video.” Then, joking that his team had “whipped up a video as a defense mechanism,” he screened footage of one of his Las Vegas casinos, during which Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin could be heard crooning.

Wynn took offense to a suggestion that the Wynn high-rise proposed for Everett represented a “cookie-cutter” design. He said the “horizontality” of Mohegan Sun’s Revere project ran counter to established casino architecture.

“We learned long ago, that we wanted to make people walk less, not more,” Wynn said.

He also said Wynn Resorts has plenty of cash to finance its Everett project, saying he understood Mohegan Sun Massachusetts would be owned by “a hedge fund,” a reference to Mohegan Sun’s financial partner, Brigade Capital Management.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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