Mohegan Sun officials hope to break ground this year on a 300-room hotel - in Plains Township, Pa., site of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Speaking Wednesday at a function in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Bobby Soper, president and chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania racetrack casino, told business leaders the facility has signed an agreement with a hotel developer who would finance and build the $60 million hotel, which Mohegan Sun would manage and lease. Under the agreement, Mohegan Sun would have the right to purchase the hotel from the developer at some point in the future.
Soper, in a phone interview later in the day, downplayed the significance of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the casino and the developer, whom he declined to identify.
"The MOU is less important than having them obtain the financing," he said. "We've been working with the developer for some time and we do have an MOU in place. But the reality is that it (only) ensures the developer has to procure financing.
"Until then, we can't determine when we can break ground," he said. "But we're hoping to break ground this year."
Soper said plans call for the hotel to bear the Mohegan Sun name. "As of now, it would be under our brand," he said.
Mohegan Sun also hopes to build a hotel at its Uncasville casino, where it had planned to erect a 39-story hotel tower as part of a major expansion suspended in 2008. Casino officials, who have indicated they are looking to pursue the hotel portion of the project with a partner, have yet to reach any agreement, Jeffrey Hartmann, Mohegan Sun's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said.
"We're not close to signing anything," Hartmann said. "We haven't even presented anything to the board." The Mohegan Tribal Council serves as the management board of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates the casinos.
Hartmann said he could provide no details about the Uncasville hotel project, which is expected to be substantially larger than the one proposed for Pocono Downs.
Plans submitted last year for the Pocono Downs project called for a nine-story hotel and a 25,000-square-foot conference center. Since then, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and some of Pennsylvania's other "racinos" and slot parlors have begun installing table games, which the state legalized in January.
Soper, in fact, discussed the impact of table games in his presentation to business leaders Wednesday, saying the expansion of gambling would spur investment in the area. He cited the Pocono Downs hotel project as an example of such investment.
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: This article was taken from the New London Day. I am not in a position to know the details of this deal, however it doesn't sound that promising. What the MTGA should do is lease the land, have someone build the hotel and operate it, and pay rent and a percentage of the profits to the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Until the developer gets the financing in place, this a not a deal. What do you think?