Foxwoods adds MGM to the mix

December 11, 2007 6:18 AM


Come spring, New Englanders looking for the luxurious casino atmosphere found at the MGM Grand won’t have to hop a plane to Sin City for the experience; they won’t even have to hop a plane.

The world’s largest casino destination is about to get bigger with the addition of MGM Grand at Foxwoods scheduled for completion in May.

The first MGM Grand in the region, the facility will have upgraded amenities and a VIP lounge, as well as high-end retail shops encircling the 50,000-square-foot casino floor.

"We think we could draw maybe a younger crowd," said Christopher O’Connell, director of hotel operations.

Construction crews are hard at work on the sculpted building, which will include a wealth of landscaping, a 4,000-seat theater, "world-class" restaurants and flat-screen televisions in each of its 825 guest rooms.

"It’s going to have a different look and feel than Foxwoods proper," said Public Relations Director Saviero Mancini. "It’ll be more of a Las Vegas style."

Since 2005, crews have worked to build a "little bit of Vegas on the East Coast," Mancini said.

It will be the first time the private casino has partnered with a tribal gaming operation, Mancini said.

Since Foxwoods will maintain ownership, the deal complies with legal requirements, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

O’Connell and Mancini said the $700 million project, which will be connected to Foxwoods Resort and Casino by a 100-yard bridge, will serve as an independent "third casino destination" in Connecticut.

More than 25,000 room nights are already booked in the 30-story MGM hotel, O’Connell said.

The MGM expansion is hoped to attract non-gamblers, who can enjoy the MGM’s outdoor swimming pool, four celebrity chef restaurants, upscale nightclub and the largest ballroom and conference space in the Northeast.

O’Connell said he expects 35 percent of business to come from conferences alone.

Those who want more traditional casino fare can frequent the building’s 1,450 machines and 54 tables or traverse the bridge to Foxwoods, Mancini said.

The MGM Grand at Foxwoods, which will also include a 21,000-square-foot spa, 320-threadcount sheets on the beds and Apple alarm clocks in every room, will be augmented by a $55 million renovation in Foxwoods proper, Mancini said.