Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun in partnership with NY hotel

Hartford, Connecticut (AP) May 2011

An Indian tribal casino operator and a New York developer announced a partnership to develop a gambling and racing resort intended to revive a Catskill Mountain destination.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, parent of the Mohegan Sun in eastern Connecticut and Pocono Downs in Plains Township, Pa., and Concord Associates will develop a $600 million project to rebuild at the site of the Concord Hotel, once one of the most popular destinations in the Borscht Belt.

Ground will be broken on the 116-acre site in June, and the resort in Thompson, N.Y., is expected to open by spring 2013.

The Mohegan Sun is a "small equity holder" in the project, said Mitchell Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. More details will be available in the future on how the total amount of money is split between the two partners and how the money will be raised.

It’s the first deal announced by Mohegan Gaming Advisors, a venture that manages and runs casino and other properties.

A 75,000 square-foot casino would feature 2,100 video lottery terminals with as many as 450 electronic table game positions, a 258-room hotel, a harness racing facility with a grandstand, a track and related paddock facilities, a simulcast site for pari-mutuel betting, 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms and ballrooms, five restaurants, retail outlets and entertainment space.

More than $100 million has been spent on site preparation, foundations, demolition and fixing environmental problems, the Mohegan Sun said.

A nearby harness racetrack and casino threatened to go to court to block the issuing of video gaming licenses at the Concord. Empire Resorts, which owns and operates the Monticello Casino & Raceway, said in a statement it is New York’s harness racing and video gaming licensee in Sullivan County.

Louis R. Cappelli, founder and chief executive officer of Concord Associates, praised Mohegan for its brand and operation of "highly successful" gambling and racing facilities in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

The two parties "represent a natural partnership and view the redevelopment of the Concord Hotel as a way to generate enhanced tourism, tax revenue and job creation" for the Catskills and New York, he said.

The Concord Hotel, the biggest of the old, empty Borscht Belt resorts, was demolished in 2008. It was a premier Catskills hotel in the 1950s and ‘60s when the Catskills drew summer tourists, many of them Jewish families visiting from New York City. Tourism declined by the 1970s as air fares fell and air conditioning became common.

Locals looked to casinos to fill the void but were unable to amend the state constitution to legalize them.