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    Tuesday, March 05, 2024

    At Mohegan Sun, Miss America, food-court outlets are gone, Tesla opens, new restaurant’s on the way

    The new Tesla showroom at Mohegan Sun casino. A grand opening is scheduled in December 2023. (Courtesy of Mohegan Sun)
    The new Tesla showroom at Mohegan Sun Casino. A grand opening is scheduled for December 2023. (Courtesy of Mohegan Sun)

    Mohegan ― There she goes, Miss America.

    After crowning its last three winners at Mohegan Sun, the once-iconic beauty-pageant-turned-scholarship competition has relocated.

    In other developments, several Mohegan Sun food-court outlets have closed to make way for a new, yet-to-be-named restaurant, and a much-anticipated Tesla Electric Vehicle Showroom has debuted at the casino ahead of a grand opening scheduled later this month.

    Sales and demo drives are available.

    The Miss America organization announced weeks ago that its next competition will take place in Orlando, Fla., culminating in a Jan. 14 crowning of the next Miss America in the 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater, part of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

    It’s unclear which party ― Mohegan Sun or the Miss America organization ― opted out of the last year of a three-year agreement they announced amid fanfare at a casino news conference in April 2021.

    Since then, Mohegan Sun has hosted nationally televised Miss America events in December 2021 and December 2022. Previously, it had hosted the December 2019 event. No competition was held in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “While we did enjoy working with the Miss America team for exciting events in previous years, which really energized our property and helped showcase Mohegan Sun to new audiences, they have moved forward in a different direction,” Jeff Hamilton, Mohegan Sun’s president and general manager, said in a statement. “We wish them the best at their new location and event in January.”

    Hamilton declined to elaborate.

    Back in 2021, he said the success of the Miss America competition at Mohegan Sun in 2019 convinced the casino to pursue a long-term partnership and that “we’re thrilled to host Miss America events and competitions for the next three years.” He said Miss America was among Mohegan Sun’s largest annual events.

    The Miss America organization, based in Wellington, Fla., did not respond to a message seeking comment.

    Earlier this week, Mohegan Sun carried out a “soft” opening of its Tesla showroom in the Shops at Mohegan Sun across from Todd English’s Tuscany restaurant. The showroom is the first of its kind in Connecticut, where state law prohibits manufacturers from selling vehicles directly to consumers, requiring that vehicles be sold through licensed car dealers.

    Direct sales of Teslas are legal at Mohegan Sun, however, because of the casino’s location on the Mohegan Tribe’s reservation, which is sovereign land.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that federally recognized tribes like the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots “retain inherent sovereign powers of self-government over tribal members and activities on land held in trust for the tribes by the federal government,” according to a report issued in August by the state legislature’s Office of Legislative Research.

    In June, the Mohegan Tribal Council enacted an ordinance allowing electric-vehicle manufacturers that enter into a lease or sublease on tribal lands to operate a dealership and “sell, lease, service, and deliver EVs at the dealership.”

    Mohegan Sun and Tesla announced their partnership in July.

    At Tesla’s casino location, customers will be able to test drive vehicles around the resort and receive deliveries of vehicles ordered online. “Momentum” credits earned through Mohegan Sun’s loyalty and rewards program will be accepted for Tesla purchases.

    Also this week, Mohegan Sun confirmed the closing of four restaurants in its food court opposite Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, which remains open. The outlets closed to make way for construction of a new, yet-to-be named restaurant, were The Original Soup Man, Summer Shack Express, Mezze Mediterranean Cuisine and Southside Philly Cheesesteaks.

    A Mohegan Sun spokesman said Friday the identity of the new restaurant will be announced soon.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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