Mohegan Sun joins Market East casino partners

"It will be much more than a casino," says developer Ken Goldenberg, but for right now, the land at 8th and Market remains just a parking lot. CLEM MURRAY / Staff
"It will be much more than a casino," says developer Ken Goldenberg, but for right now, the land at 8th and Market remains just a parking lot. CLEM MURRAY / Staff
Posted: February 08, 2013

Market East Associates L.P., one of six applicants for Philadelphia's second casino license, said Wednesday that Mohegan Sun will be a partner in and would operate its proposed Eighth and Market Streets gambling hall.

The $500 million project, formerly known as Casino Philadelphia on its application to the state gaming board, is now Market8, said developer Ken Goldenberg, who assembled Market East Associates.

"It will be a really exciting urban entertainment complex with a casino in its middle, its heart," he said Wednesday. "But it will be much more than a casino."

Goldenberg said the five-level complex would have at least eight restaurants, two floors of gaming, a poker room, a concert venue that doubles as a banquet hall, and a nightclub. A four- or five-star hotel with 168 rooms is in the planning stages.

Mohegan Sun, which owns a flagship casino in Uncasville, Conn., and a racetrack-casino in Wilkes-Barre, signed a similar agreement in August to manage and own part of Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. That partnership allowed it to be the first Native American tribe with a presence at the seaside resort.

Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which owns Mohegan Sun and its other casinos, said management contracts such as these were a growing part of its business. A subsidiary, Mohegan Gaming Advisors, was created in 2011 to pursue such partnerships and management and consulting contracts.

"We will be the operator and have equity in the project," Etess said. "There are great partners involved, and the project has a ton of potential.

"It's very similar to what we do," he said. "The location is incredible for the property. We will be able to capitalize on bringing more people into Center City and maximizing revenue. . . . It fits right in with our market synergies and will allow us to expand our presence on the East Coast."

Goldenberg said the investor group was "committed to making the whole project resonate with what already exists on East Market Street and to its continued transformation." The site is three blocks from the Pennsylvania Convention Center and near hotels.

Market East Associates also includes David Adelman, president and chief executive of Campus Apartments; Ira Lubert, chairman and cofounder of Lubert-Adler Real Estate; Willie Johnson, founder and chairman of PRWT Services, and Michael Heller, president and executive partner at Cozen O'Connor.

Lubert and Heller are principals of Valley Forge Casino Resort.

Goldenberg and Etess will testify Tuesday before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, as will the other five applicant groups making first pitches for the license.

The other applicants are local developer Bart Blatstein, gambling mogul Steve Wynn, businessman Joseph Procacci, a partnership between Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment Inc. (owner of Parx) and Cordish Cos. (owner of Xfinity Live and Maryland Live casino), and Penn National Gaming Inc. (owner of Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, among others).

All six have been modifying their plans since submitting applications in mid-November. Tuesday's presentations are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. at the Convention Center.


Contact Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2855 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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