First Recipient of MPTN Lifetime Achievement Award Is Richard “Skip” Hayward:
A Missing Piece of the Puzzle Was On the Sidelines
Foxwoods Resort Casino’s 25th Anniversary Tribal Council Gala was a lavishly joyous occasion held in the Premier Ballroom, Fox Tower on August 19. Tribal members, community leaders, Foxwoods team members and executives from past and present with patrons all gathered to celebrate and honor friendship, loyalty and patronage over the past 25 years.
Spirits were high! Upon entering the elaborately decorated ballroom, you couldn’t help but catch the flow of positive energy. Friends from the past and present swarming around Richard “Skip” Hayward offering thanks for his dynamic leadership, bold vision and dedicated service to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (MPTN). Lots of handshaking and hugging was going on. It was a ‘feel good’ party.
Yes, for many years, Skip was the missing piece of the puzzle, or as one would say, “he was on hiatus” from events like this at the ever so successful gaming/entertainment empire that he built. But, according to him, “I was on the sidelines.” Elected as chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe in 1975, Skip’s vision for community development helped pave the way for establishing the first tribal housing authority in the State of Connecticut in 1977. He built the first on-reservation housing development with a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
He began the Tribe’s Sugar Shack maple syrup operation still thriving to this day, and several other business ideas to secure the Tribe’s economic stability. Upon winning the Tribe’s Federal Recognition in 1983, Chairman Hayward championed the construction of the Mashantucket Pequot High Stakes Bingo Hall, which opened in 1986.
Following Bingo, Skip secured a $60M investment from a Malaysian billionaire and the rest is history—the first Native American casino was built—Foxwoods Resort Casino. Throughout much of the nineties, Foxwoods remained the largest and most profitable casino in the western hemisphere. Twenty-five years later, it is one of North America’s largest and the “Wonder of the Connecticut Woods.”
To date, MPTN has contributed over $4 billion to the State of Connecticut through a first-of-its-kind slot revenue sharing agreement, which became an example for similar agreements nationwide.
Each year, the tribe invests approximately $100M in local vendor contracts, helping to strengthen small businesses throughout the region. Additionally, the tribe provided millions to charities and social service organizations throughout the local area since 1992. And, it all began with Skip!
As Felix Rappaport, President & Chief Executive Officer, Foxwoods Resort Casino, stated during a press conference held prior to the gala, “Foxwoods was the first tribal casino and this pioneering effort led to a nation-wide tribal gaming movement which now includes more than 400 gaming enterprises coast-to-coast operated by over 200 tribes. And now the tribal gaming industry represents $31B in revenue plus all of the hundreds of thousands of jobs and ways that it contributes to communities all over the country.”
Before introducing Governor Malloy at the press conference, Tribal Chairman Rodney Butler expressed gratitude for MPTN’s partnership with the State of Connecticut and the 10,000 jobs produced by Foxwoods and MPTN. “It’s a winning bet for everyone,” remarked Chairman Rodney.
Governor Malloy began his speech with some humor asking the young Chairman Rodney, “How old were you 25-years ago?” Then, he expressed the importance for him personally that, “The State of Connecticut develop a peer relationship with the Tribe.” “I have so much respect for the casino, the governing nation, and employees.”
He said that he was most proud to forge a new relationship with both tribes allowing them to build a casino off reservation which will position us to be competitive with other casinos. “This is very much about jobs.”
Representing an incredible friendship at the federal level, Chairman Rodney introduced Congressman Joe Courtney. Congressman Joe praised Rodney’s leadership ability and for being voted Tribal Leader of the Year on a national level—“It’s evident the quality of leadership that Rodney brings both here, in Washington D.C., and in our community.” Joe stated, “It’s been an incredible journey since 1992 and it’s hard to believe that it’s been 25 years. Rodney just confessed to me that he was a 15-year old student playing football at Montville High.”
The Congressman shared some history–In 1990, the Cold War was coming to end and here, Electric Boat had 30,000 employees. By 1992, they had shed about half of those bringing the number to 16,000 and by the end of the 90s the count was down to 8,000. “It was a critical time for this region.” And, there is no one who knows this better than Skip Hayward, having been a pipefitter at EB. “We should salute and thank him for his amazing leadership, vision and diligence….” “The footprint that he’s created in this region is definitely worthy of this honor.”
“You were here before Connecticut was a State. Whatever matter that Rodney and the governor have been working through, the fact of the matter is that you’re going to be here—you’re not going anywhere. You’re going to be a big part of the footprint for another 25 years!”
Skip reminded the audience that this is the 350th Anniversary of Mashantucket. “We’re proud of our history and proud that we were able to survive. There were good people even back then and they allowed us to survive because without them we wouldn’t have survived either. Every time we failed we learned from it. We did what my grandmother wanted us to do—Hold on to the land.”