Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Exclusive! Can Live Music and the Arts in Boston Grow with a Casino in Revere?

By Doug Ruffin
     Boston Music Coalition 

In an Exclusive interview regarding Live Music and the Arts in Greater Boston in relationship to a Casino in Revere; The Boston Music Coalition (BMC) talked with Both Chip Tuttle COO of Suffolk Downs and Gary Luderitz. Vice President of Operations And Development for Mohegan Sun.  We talked about the effects a Revere Casino could have on Live Music And the Arts in Greater Boston, The Election, The MBTA, and we also as, How can local Musicians get gigs at Mohegan Sun in Suffolk Downs? We start with Chip Tuttle. 

BMC: How long have you been COO of Suffolk Downs and what was you vision for Suffolk Downs from your start? 

Chip Tuttle: I was named chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs in August of 2007 after having previously served as the track’s Director of Marketing and Communications from 1992-1997.  Since returning, my job has been to guide our efforts to bring a world-class resort to our property and the community investment and economic benefits that would come with it.  At the same time, we have been working to preserve our 79-year-old racetrack and the livelihoods of the roughly 800 people who work at our facility during the racing season.

BMC: How does Mohegan Sun fit in to your vision for Suffolk Downs? 

Chip Tuttle: We are delighted to have Mohegan Sun as our partner.  Mohegan Sun provides us with the opportunity to develop a world-class destination resort on 42 acres of our property in Revere, while allowing us to keep our commitment to racing at our existing facility in East Boston.

As the operator of the largest grossing casino in the Western Hemisphere, Mohegan Sun knows how to create and deliver an exciting experience for its guests that keep them coming back again and again. Mohegan Sun knows the New England market better than any other operator and will draw visitors from across the region and the country to a one of a kind destination resort that will include memorable shopping, dining and entertainment experiences that will complement the resort’s gaming and hotel facilities.

We are very excited about the vision that Mohegan Sun has for this project and they share our commitment to making it something that the entire region can benefit from.

It’s always been my experience that whenever you find a Casino, entertainment is likely to follow. What entertainment venues will be present at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Revere?

Mohegan Sun Massachusetts has developed an exciting entertainment program to complement the offerings throughout Greater Boston and across the Commonwealth.  In the casino area, Mohegan Sun will provide a casino-style lounge that is similar to a small amphitheater.  For those who are familiar with the Mohegan Sun property in Connecticut, this will be similar to the Wolf Den.  This area would accommodate regional bands, music, videos, dancing and DJs.  Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will also feature a 1,000-seat multi-purpose room ideal for live entertainment. The resort casino will also feature clubs and nightlife, and additional information will be detailed in the coming months as partnerships are finalized.

For larger scale entertainment, Mohegan Sun has commitments to collaborate with venues in the Greater Boston region and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Mohegan Sun has entered into an agreement with the Citi Center for the Performing Arts to bring events to venues in Boston’s Theater District and the Strand Theatre, and to provide operational management at venues at Mohegan Sun Massachusetts. Mohegan Sun also has an agreement with the Massachusetts Coalition for the Performing Arts and will support a range of other live entertainment venues through cross-marketing, particularly when used with the Mohegan Sun Points Partnership Program.

At this point; Gary Luderitz joins in the conversation

BMC: What will the seating capacity be for each entertainment venue at Mohegan Sun at Suffolk Downs? 

Gary Luderitz: The gaming legislation allows for seating capacities of less than 1,000 and more than 3,500.  The Wolf Den would fall under the less than 1,000 category.  Currently, there are no plans for a 3,500 plus venue.  Mohegan Sun is committed to partnering with larger venues in the area.

BMC: Will entertainment include local or nationally known live music artists?

Gary Luderitz: One of the many benefits of a resort of this size and scope is the ability to offer a wide range of entertainment, both local and national.  The amphitheater area will be a logical venue for local live music artists to perform, as will some of the nightclubs that would be on-site.

BMC: How would a local musician gain gigs at Mohegan Sun at Suffolk Downs?

Gary Luderitz: Mohegan Sun is committed to bringing a diverse program of arts and entertainment to its destination resort in Massachusetts, including local and regional talent.  Mohegan Sun will work with its partners, such as Citi Center, to create an exciting program of performances and entertainment.  Additional details on how local musicians can access opportunities at Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will be finalized in the coming months.

BMC: What sort of entertainment-related full and part time positions would be available at Mohegan Sun?   

Gary Luderitz: Mohegan Sun Massachusetts will generate 4,000 permanent jobs in a variety of fields, including hospitality, marketing and entertainment.

BMC: Do you expect additional entertainment competition from greater Boston music venues once Mohegan Sun opens?

Gary Luderitz: As a major tourist destination, Mohegan Sun will attract visitors from all over the northeast and the nation.  With this influx of visitors to the area, I would expect that the demand for live entertainment in the Greater Boston area would increase as other venues look to attract these visitors.  In some cases, Mohegan Sun will partner with these venues and drive guests there through its points program.

BMC: Currently, The MBTA closes just after 12:30 AM. The Mohegan Sun Casino at Suffolk Downs is expected to be a 24 hour operation. Would you like the "T" to operate longer hours? What plans do you have to work with the MBTA to encourage longer hours on the "T" 

Gary Luderitz: With the Beachmont T station literally steps away from the entrance to the resort, the T will be a tremendous asset in getting people to and from the resort safely while reducing volume on surrounding roadways.  Mohegan Sun would welcome the expansion of service and will continue to work with transportation officials on how to best serve visitors to the property and local residents alike with the goal of maximizing public safety and minimizing transportation impacts in the community.

BMC: An election for Revere Residents to vote for or, against a Casino in Revere is set for February, 25th. Why should the entertainment community stand behind a Casino in Revere as apposed to a Casino in Everett or, anywhere else in Eastern Massachusetts? 

Gary Luderitz: The development that Mohegan Sun is proposing on the Suffolk Downs property in Revere is based on extending the economic and tourism benefits of the resort to as many other local and regional interests as possible, including the entertainment industry.  Overall, Mohegan Sun is planning to spend $50 million annually on goods and services from regional businesses – far more than any other competing operator has committed to.

In addition to the opportunities that would be available on site, Mohegan Sun will create a breadth of opportunities for area venues through its partnerships with other organizations, such as the one already established with the Citi Center for the Performing Arts.  As the leading name in gaming in New England, Mohegan Sun knows this market better than anyone.  Through its Momentum Points loyalty program, Mohegan Sun will encourage visitors to visit entertainment establishments in the region and use their points as currency at participating venues.

BMC: What can people who love live music and the local entertainment community do if they support a Casino at Suffolk Downs? More importantly, if a Casino license is granted to Mohegan Sun at Suffolk Downs, What will you promise the entertainment community and the music loving public?

First, if you live in Revere, you must to go the polls on Tuesday, February 25 and vote ‘Yes.’  For those who want the latest information on the proposal and ways to help, is a great resource.  You can sign up to receive regular email updates about the project and upcoming events.  I would also encourage everyone to watch Mohegan Sun’s presentation to the Gaming Commission from January 22, which is available on the Commission’s website.

If Mohegan Sun earns a casino license, you can be sure that live music will be a regular entertainment offering and a variety of artists from diverse musical genres will be showcased.  Since the gaming law provides protection for venues with capacities of 1,000-3,500, I would expect those venues in the area to thrive as they look to attract visitors to Mohegan Sun.  Through its partnership programs, Mohegan Sun will seek to include local entertainment venues so that the entertainment community can share in the resort’s success.

BMC: Thank you for meeting with us at the Boston Music Coalition. Would you be willing to return for another interview in the future?

Chip Tuttle and Gary Luderitz: Certainly.  And thank you for giving us this opportunity.

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