By Zachary Baru
With four developers competing for one license to build a resort casino in Western Massachusetts, the stakes are certainly high. While the Massachusetts Gaming Commission continues the process to award the sole regional license, the Western Mass. sports and entertainment industry anxiously awaits the early 2014 announcement.
A resort casino in the area will not exactly hurt sports franchises and venues in the Pioneer Valley, it can easily team-up with the industry to create new partnerships, and more likely than not attract a larger clientele to market to. Any attraction that brings additional people to the region can benefit local franchises and venues in a positive way. The opportunity would be simple: bring in more people to the region, fill more events, and pump more money into the local economy. Sounds halfway decent, but can it work?
Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut has spent over a decade of bringing the most popular touring acts to it's 9,323-seat arena. In addition, Mohegan Sun Arena has won multiple awards for its unique, modern and intimate concert setting, including being ranked 3rd in the U.S. by Billboard Magazine.
Should this proposal be granted the Western Mass. license, this is far from a threat to sports and entertainment in the region, but rather a way of creating an entertainment buzz in the area. There would be no competition for sports at the MassMutual Center, and this proposal could help an already strong relationship between Mohegan Sun and the Basketball Hall of Fame.
The two organizations are partners for events such as the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena, held in November. Recently, Mohegan Sun Palmer has announced a Basketball Hall of Fame retail store would be part of the proposed resort casino.
Should Mohegan Sun be granted the resort casino license, is sports and entertainment guaranteed to flourish in the Pioneer Valley? Not guaranteed, but Palmer would have the potential to become a catalyst for an increase in Western Mass. entertainment. This could create a ripple effect on the entire region, which could possibly see a smaller example of the sports and entertainment success Mohegan Sun has had for over a decade.
Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru, and reached at email@example.com.