The Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut announced plans to add a seven-story, 238-room hotel and convention center at its current Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs property in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Bobby Soper, president and chief executive officer of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, said that while the property in Wilkes Barre has a diverse array of gaming and non-gaming amenities, the expansion will make it a complete entertainment destination.
“This not only makes the Tribe’s economic portfolio more attractive, but it is consistent with the Mohegan Sun brand which speaks to a complete entertainment destination,” he said.
The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, acquired by the Tribe in 2005, has over 55,000 square feet of gaming space, 2,300 slot machines and electronic table games, a live harness racing eight months of the year on a 5/8 mile oval track, restaurants, live entertainment and retail shops.
It was among the first casinos in Pennsylvania to add live table games such as BlackJack and Roulette Craps. In recent years, the State has allowed two other non-Native casinos—Sands Casino Bethlehem and Mount Airy Casino in Mount Pocono—to operate.
The two casinos also cater to the same northern New Jersey and New York markets as Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
“We have consistently exceeded our fair share of the market. However, having a hotel will allow us to remain competitive for those guests who prefer to stay overnight,” said Soper.
While there are a few convention center venues in the area, they do not provide the types of amenities the Pocono Downs will offer, he said adding, “Generally, convention capacity is underserved in this market.”
The project expansion, called Project Sunlight, is estimated to cost $50 million. The Tribe broke ground July 18. Construction is to be completed in 15 months.
Along with company executives and the Tribal Council, Soper said the ground breaking had a substantial number of dignitaries from the local community and the state of Pennsylvania.
A press statement said the local economy is expected to benefit with 350 jobs in the course of construction and 270 permanent positions once the facilities are opened.
The 238-room hotel will include a combination of standard guest rooms and suites and feature rooms with exclusive views of the Race Track, as well as a fitness center, indoor pool and a Bistro serving breakfast and light fare. A new porte-cochere is also being added for additional convenience, the statement said.
The convention center, roughly 20,000 in square feet will be available for special events, meetings, concerts and more. It will be able to accommodate different sized groups from 800 for a seated banquet to 1,500 for a concert venue, the statement said.
“Since we first opened we knew that a hotel and convention center would greatly enhance our operation and make a more complete destination. The time just had to be right,” said Soper.
He said that with the introduction of the table games in 2010 and the associated demand and additional volumes it has generated plus requests from guests regarding overnight stay, it was time to add lodging amenities.
“In addition, the completion of the re-financing by our parent (Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority) created greater flexibility to fund the project,” Soper said.
“This project will serve both our existing market as well as open opportunities to capture other markets,” he said, noting that the hotel will generate longer trips and greater trip frequency with its existing database.