'Skip' Hayward, Mashantuckets' former leader, to make rare public appearance

Mashantucket — Richard “Skip” Hayward, the former Mashantucket Pequot chairman credited with reviving the tribe in the 1970s and envisioning Foxwoods Resort Casino, will make a rare public appearance next Saturday night as Foxwoods marks a milestone in its relationship with the state.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is scheduled to attend a “press event” at which the 69-year-old Hayward will speak “about Foxwoods’ early days, the vision that started it all, and those who came alongside him to make it happen,” the tribe announced Friday, billing it as Hayward’s “first official public appearance” since his retirement from the tribal council in 2004.

The occasion will mark Foxwoods’ $4 billion in slot-machine contributions to the state, a milestone it reached this year, its 25th in business.

Only members of the media are being invited to hear remarks by Malloy and Hayward, who do not plan to conduct a formal news conference, according to Lori Potter, the tribe's director of communications.

Malloy is expected to discuss the tribe’s contributions to the state.

Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket chairman, will present Hayward with the tribe’s first Lifetime Achievement Award at Foxwoods’ 25th Anniversary Tribal Council Gala later Saturday night. The award is being presented “in recognition of and gratitude for Hayward’s leadership in rebuilding the tribe’s community and establishing Foxwoods,” the first full-service tribal casino built on an Indian reservation.

A virtual recluse for more than a decade, Hayward, who lives on the Mashantucket reservation, was inducted last fall into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame as an “industry pioneer,” considered one of gaming’s highest honors. He did not attend the induction ceremony at The Venetian casino in Las Vegas due to a scheduling conflict.

More than 80 people have been inducted into the hall since its inception in 1989.

Hayward served as the tribe’s chairman for 23 years, from 1975 to 1998, and then as vice chairman for an additional six years. He led the tribe’s effort to gain state recognition in 1974 and federal recognition in 1983.

In 1986, the Mashantuckets opened Foxwoods High-Stakes Bingo Hall, which in 1992 gave way to Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Hayward has had little involvement in tribal affairs until the last year or so, Potter said.

Hayward has been interested in helping form a board of directors to oversee the Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, which is "near and dear to his heart,” she said.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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