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Mohegan Sun celebrates expansion project milestone

14 January 2008

When you're spending nearly a billion dollars to expand your casino to the point where it will rank as one of the largest in the universe, you've earned the right to exult in every single milestone along the way. And that's exactly what the Mohegan Sun Casino did earlier this month as it made a major step towards completing Phase 1 of its $925 million Project Horizon expansion.

Before the new 64,000 square-foot Casino of the Wind portion of the project had its final steel beam set into place on Jan. 2, a ceremony was held as it was signed by a group of invited guests. The beam was then hoisted into the air carrying an American flag, a flag of the Mohegan Tribal Nation and an evergreen tree as part of a tradition that began in Scandinavia more than 1,000 years ago as a gesture of goodwill. In addition, Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, the Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, blessed the area and performed a smudge ceremony, as part of a hallowed tradition of Mohegan culture.

"Today is a proud day for Mohegan, as we have reached a major milestone in our Project Horizon expansion," said Mitchell Etess, President and Chief Executive Officer for Mohegan Sun, who emceed the event along with Bozsum. "I would like to thank all the men and women who have dedicated countless hours of hard work and commitment to this project and have made this all possible…2007 has certainly been a busy and exciting year for Mohegan Sun, and 2008 looks to be even better."

When it opens this fall, Casino of the Wind will feature 45,000 square feet of new gaming space, including 826 slot machines, 28 table games and a 42-table-themed poker room. The original poker room at Mohegan Sun closed in 2003 to make room for more slot machines, but the popularity of the game has pushed the casino to bring it back to Mohegan. In November, the casino introduced 12 automated PokerTek poker tables.

When the entire expansion project is completed in 2010 the Mohegan Sun will feature 365,000 square feet and vault into the Top-5 largest casinos in the world list, just ahead of its Connecticut rival, Foxwoods Casino (344,000 square feet).

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant will also open as part of the Casino of the Wind phase. The legendary entertainer makes a permanent stop on his tour at Mohegan Sun and now his fans will be able to dine in a multi-level, 16,000 square-foot eatery decorated with tiki huts, palm trees, a 30-foot spinning waterspout and an eight-foot tall blender. Guests can enjoy dinner, drinks and live entertainment on a sailboat in the indoor marina or under shiny skies on the outdoor terrace overlooking the Thames River. The 366-seat eatery will not only be one of the largest dining venues at Mohegan Sun, but the first indoor/outdoor restaurant as well.

The Casino of the Wind will be located adjacent to the existing Casino of the Sky, and will feature a unique Mohegan Sun design that draws inspiration from solar phenomena. The focus of the space is an electronic and animated water wall, which acts as an immense projection screen for programmed video entertainment. The other casino currently at Mohegan Sun is called the Casino of the Earth.

After completing the Casino of the Wind, Mohegan will turn to the next phase of the project, which will be the opening of the House of Blues, set to open in the fall of 2009. The House of Blues will also own and operate a 1,500-person capacity Music Hall and a 300-seat casual dining restaurant and retail shop.

The final phase of the project – which has already required the use of more than 50,000 man hours, two million pounds of steel and 4,500 yards of concrete – will be the opening of the 1,000-room hotel tower that will include 300 House of Blues-themed rooms and a 7,500-square foot members-only House of Blues Foundation Room. The structure will also feature a 20,000-square-foot Mandara Spa.

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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT