Mohegan Sun opened October 12, 1996 as a spectacularly themed gaming and entertainment complex in southeastern Connecticut, the heart of the state’s tourism offering. Although actual construction took less than a year to complete, the development project took nearly four years to conceive from start to finish. The original property is the current Casino of the Earth and featured the Wolf Den, four gourmet dining options and Seasons Buffet.
Among the highlights of the four million square-foot expansion that opened on September 25, 2001 were Casino of the Sky featuring 115,000 square feet of gaming space; The Shops at Mohegan Sun with a retail and restaurant promenade, 12 new dining options and over 30 new shops; the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena; and The Cabaret Theatre, an intimate 350-seat venue. The expansion made Mohegan Sun the second largest casino in the world. The waterfall is It’s 55-feet high and officially named Taughannick Falls.
On Tuesday, April 23, 2002, Mohegan Sun completed its $1.1 billion expansion, Project Sunburst, with the official opening of a 1,200-room luxury hotel, which includes the 22,000 square-foot world-class Elemis Spa, the 38,000 square-foot Uncas Ballroom and more than 100,000 square feet of meeting and function space.
On January 28, 2003, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and Mohegan Sun became the first non-NBA owner of a WNBA team with the purchase of the Orlando Miracle women’s basketball team. The new team, the Connecticut Sun, is owned and operated by Mohegan Sun. The Connecticut Sun is the first independently owned and operated WNBA team and the first WNBA team to make its home in a non-NBA market.
On July 23, 2003, Mohegan Sun became the first in the industry to launch a literary series with its Winning Authors program. New York Times best-selling author Catherine Coulter introduced her new novel Blind Side at Mohegan Sun on July 26-27, 2003. Now in its 7th year, Mohegan Sun’s Winning Authors program provides guests the free opportunity to meet and listen to some of the nation’s top authors including Mary Higgins Clark, John Saul, Norah Roberts, Robert Parker, Susan Grafton and more.
Who says, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too?” On February 8, 2004, Mohegan Sun unveiled the world’s largest wedding cake. The cake was created by Executive Pastry Chef Lynn Mansel and topped out at 17-feet with a weight of 15,032 pounds.
The Mohegan Tribe’s payment to the State of Connecticut on or about February 15, 2004 representing the slot contribution for the month of January 2004 brought the total amount of funds forwarded to the state by the Tribe to over the $1 billion mark. About four and a half years later, the Tribe’s payment on or about August 15, 2008 representing the slot contribution for the month of July 2008 brought the total amount paid by the Tribe to the state to over $2 billion.
On December 3, 2004, Tim McGraw became the first inductee into Mohegan Sun’s Walk of Fame in a special induction ceremony held outside the entrance to Mohegan Sun Arena. Subsequent inductees include: Rod Stewart, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift, KISS and more. At present, 21 performers or groups are honored on the Walk of Fame.
From Thursday, October 19 through Sunday, October 22, 2006, Mohegan Sun celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a star-studded celebration. The festivities included performances by some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names, including Kevin Costner, Jerry Seinfeld, Craig Ferguson, Lily Tomlin, Barenaked Ladies, and a rare reunion of the original cast of Laugh-In. Additional weekend highlights included the Boston Celtics versus New York Knicks preseason basketball game.
On May 17, 2007, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority purchased Pautipaug Golf course and renamed it Mohegan Sun at Pautipaug. The private 18-hole championship golf course celebrated its grand opening on June 7th with players from the LPGA. Celebrity golfers include Ahmad Rashad and Michael Jordan golfing in the 2007 Ahmad Rashad Celebrity Classic.
On August 16, 2007, Mohegan Sun opens Sunrise Square, a new Asian experience featuring a variety of authentic Asian games, a 1,000 sqaure-foot retail area, a 4,000 square-foot food court specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine, and a new bus lobby. Sunrise Square is the first Asian-themed gaming area in the industry.
Governor Jodi Rell declared Thursday, June 26, 2008 Billy Joel Day in the State of CT after the performer sold out 10 consecutive shows in Mohegan Sun Arena. Billy Joel entertained 100,000 fans and grossed 9.25 million dollars in ticket sales during the run of shows. Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, Chairman, Mohegan Tribe, presented Billy Joel with the proclamation in the Cabaret Theater.
Casino of the Wind, home to New England’s only Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, a 42-table Poker Room, over 700 slot machines and more than 25 table games opens to an eager morning crowd on August 29, 2008. To celebrate, Mohegan Sun hosted a celebrity studded weekend October 11- 13, 2008.
Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay joined chefs Todd English and Jasper White and restaurateurs Michael Jordan, Jimmy Buffett and Geno Auriemma with the opening of Bobby’s Burger Palace on July 1, 2009. Later that year, he opened a second restaurant, Bar Americain on November 18, 2009 with the help of Mitchell Etess, President and CEO, Mohegan Sun, and Laurence Kretchmer, Bobby’s business partner.