If you go to the "MGM at Foxwoods" website, the first thing that will greet you is a digitized clock counting down the days, hours, and minutes until the opening of the new 30-story MGM Grand at the Mashantucket Connecticut casino. The $700 million joint venture between MGM Mirage and the Pequot nation was announced almost two years ago and now embodies a teal glass tower, featuring restaurants, clubs, high-end stores, state-of-the-art meeting facilities, and a 4,000-seat theatre. While additional gaming space is part of the expansion, gamblers familiar with Foxwoods will probably be more pleased to hear that they have added 825 additional guest rooms and suites.
The new MGM Grand will play host to an Asian restaurant and club called Shrine, reportedly similar to the Venetian's successful eatery and nightspot, Tao. Boston's celebrated chef Michael Schlow will be opening up a branch of his popular Italian restaurant Alta Strada, which will also feature an outdoor Mediterranean grill. And MGM Grand's Las Vegas steakhouse, Craftsteak, will also be a high-end addition at Foxwoods.
Gloria Estefan is scheduled to christen the new theatre with a Memorial Day performance. This summer will see appearances by casino standards including Huey Lewis and the News, Gladys Knight and Al Green, and Michael Bolton. And while the theatre can be reconfigured for boxing, no announcements have been made along those lines.
MGM Mirage had traditionally built and operated their own properties, but they have altered their business model over the past few years to capitalize on strategic partnerships. MGM Mirage's multi-billion partnership with Dubai World on CityCenter in Las Vegas represents the largest of these ventures. MGM Mirage's U.S. properties are currently concentrated in Las Vegas, Mississippi, and Atlantic City. With the soon-to-be unveiled expansion at Foxwoods, MGM achieves a presence in a growing, but competitive, region where they had none before.
The partnership is also compelling for the Piquot nation. While Foxwoods has always been a favorite among northeastern players, the gaming-centric and somewhat hotel space-challenged casino was positioned as a regional gambling destination. But competition has risen in the region, a trend that will likely continue as surrounding states revisit their gambling regulations. With the expansion, Foxwoods can differentiate itself as one of the only resort-style casinos in the area.