Foxwoods To Build New Theatre

The Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., one of the world’s largest casinos, recently unveiled plans for a $700 million expansion, which will include a new 5,000-seat theatre and nearly 2 million additional square feet.

The new venue will be in addition to the 1,400-seat Fox Theater, which currently resides in the “theatre district” of the nearly 5-million-square-foot resort.

“[The new theatre will] have all major touring acts that are touring throughout the East Coast,” Foxwoods spokesman Thomas Cantone told Pollstar. “The Fox Theater will continue to be the home of major entertainment whether it’s Broadway shows or smaller acts that have marquee value, but we may have the larger venue booked with something else going on,” he added. “On some nights it will be dual capacity. We’ll keep them both going pretty well.”

Reports have suggested the expansion could be a pre-emptive strike against new casinos in the region as well as the existing Mohegan Sun Casino, which is 10 miles away and houses the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena.

“We’re competitors now,” Cantone said, “but the ones who benefit are people who live in the New England area as well as New York.

“Between Mohegan and Foxwoods, we probably bring in the best entertainment in any of the casino venues. A lot of casinos don’t book on the frequency and the level that we book.”

Mohegan Sun Arena senior VP Paul Munick agrees that a little healthy competition couldn’t hurt.

“We’ve certainly had an advantage over them in having a 10,000-seat building,” Munick told Pollstar. “It’ll be competition and we’ll deal with it accordingly. … We could have expansion plans down the road as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, Cantone said Foxwoods will continue to book contemporary acts like LL Cool J, Pink, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Norah Jones, and the Dixie Chicks, along with comedians Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld, among others, in hopes of attracting a “diverse younger market.”

“R&B and hip-hop is already today’s pop culture and it’s mainstream,” Cantone said. “The next generation is already in the house and all we’re doing is providing more of an outlet and a venue for them to come.”

He added, “I think it’s important for people – especially out West – to know the kind of names we’ve booked here … and not associate us with the typical casino fare that has stereotyped so many casinos. I think that mold has been broken.”

In addition to music and comedy, the new theatre will host major boxing and sporting events, some of which will be broadcast on television, according to Cantone.

Along with the new yet-to-be-named theatre, the Mashantucket tribal members voted to approve plans for an 825-room hotel tower, a massive convention space and ballroom, shops, restaurants, nightclubs, and 1,500 more slot machines. The project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2008.