BRIDGEPORT: Just a day after MGM Resorts CEO James Murren tried to rally Bridgeport’s business community in a speech to Bridgeport Regional Business Council, to a plan for a Casino in that city, the Mohegan Sun sent a strategic, dare we say, arrow at another Mayor Joe Ganim administration plan.
Mohegan Sun, which calls itself the “premier entertainment destination in the Northeast,” announced an exclusive partnership with the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. The multiple-level agreement involves concerts, sporting events and sponsorships and is “effective immediately.” The Arena is run by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers an American Hockey League [AHL] affiliate of the New York Islanders,National Hockey League [NHL] team.
MGM has proposed a $675 million casino and entertainment complex in Bridgeport, with the backing of Ganim who has marshaled political support from New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.
On December 5, Murren “roused” the business group with the company’s plans in the city as he sought support to turn legislators toward the project. MGM has already begun construction of a $960 million casino project in Springfield, Mass., which is expected to open in 2019.
Connecticut legislators have already approved a plan for a casino in East Windsor, to combat competition for the Connecticut casinos through a partnership of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes, [Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods].
The tribes with the backing of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, filed a lawsuit to force US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to approve their gaming agreements with Connecticut and clear the way for the development.
“This is an exciting day as two of the strongest entertainment venues in the state join together, said, Tom Cantone, Senior Vice President of Sports & Entertainment for Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) adding, “we have had an open relationship with Webster Bank Arena for years and this agreement is a further extension of the long-term partnership we look forward to having with them.”
Kevin Brown “Red Eagle,” Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe and MGE Management Board said that, “Today’s announcement is more than just a partnership with the Webster Bank Arena. It’s a demonstration of our commitment to bringing tourism to all of Connecticut, not just the southeastern corner. It is a commitment to Bridgeport, a city rich in history and culture, to help with the growth and rebirth of the Park City.”
Bridgeport Sound Tigers Owner Jon Ledecky said, “Mohegan Sun will help secure concerts that will appeal to the local community, as well as become a visible sponsor in our first-class arena.”
The Sound Tigers are in a nasty battle with the city over some of the terms of their management of the Arena and that now may be heating up. Ganim who is pledging to make Bridgeport the entertainment capital of southern Connecticut supports the MGM casino. He recently booted the Bridgeport Bluefish minor league baseball team from the Harbor Yard Stadium and forged a $15 million deal with Howard Saffan a local developer and owner of Sports Center of Connecticut in Shelton and Live Nation to convert the stadium into a concert venue.
Saffan was previous CEO at the Arena, the Sound Tigers claim they have an exclusive right to produce concerts from the city and have already threatened additional legal action.
Bridgeport’s city council has tentatively approved up to $7 million for renovations for the project.
The conversion to the 6000, seat Harbor Yard Amphitheater was projected to be completed before the 2019 outdoor concert season and to host a “minimum” of twenty events per outdoor season.