Pictured: Mohegan Sun’s orientation for the 2021 Miss America Pageant (Mohegan Sun)
Mohegan Sun has invested millions in new safety measures, and it’s reopening its $80-million Earth Expo & Convention Center to host conferences and tradeshows. The 275,000-square-foot indoor event space spans the size of four football fields, offering ample space for social distancing.
The Tribe is leveraging its sovereignty to open the entertainment complex that sits on Tribal land — meaning it can legally exceed the state’s 25-person capacity limit. In addition to mandatory mask wear and furniture removal to make six-feet separation between guests as simple as possible, thermal temperature scans are situated at all entrances for guests and employees. Fresh air recirculates throughout the venue through ultraviolet-lit air handlers, as opposed to a mix of recycled and fresh air. The casino and entertainment venue in Uncasville, Connecticut, has also implemented a contact tracing program for workers.
So far since the COVID-19 outbreak, Mohegan has hosted an orientation for the 2021 Miss America Pageant counting roughly 200 participants and held a U.S. Census training event.
“We are able to accomplish events in an uncanny amount of space, and are able to flex up because we have such large meeting rooms,” John Washko, Mohegan’s vice president of exhibitions and convention sales, told Hartford Business. “There are ways that you can create a safe overall environment.”
The Earth Expo & Convention Center debuted in June 2018, hosting collector cars in its column-free space for the Barrett-Jackson Northeast Auction. That initiated Mohegan Sun’s five-year agreement to host one of Barrett-Jackson’s four, large-scale events annually. This said, the Connecticut International Auto Show scheduled for this fall is off the calendar. Yet the four-day Hartford Boat Show is still slated for mid-January.
The Mohegan Tribally owned casino has been leveraging the appeal of the Earth Expo & Convention Center’s contiguous space to establish long-term partnerships with clients like Barrett-Jackson, who require a large footprint and loading dock accessibility for tradeshows. Floor-to-ceiling windows and doors allow for natural light to filter through, offering an ideal showroom. It’s also the largest expo space along the New York-Boston I-95 corridor.
The Earth Expo & Convention Center’s advanced open design features 275,000-square feet of indoor event space, including 145,000 square feet of contiguous column-free exhibit space. (Courtesy Mohegan Sun)
“Boat shows, RV shows, home and garden shows — with those big tradeshows, comes load in and load out needs,” Washko previously told Native Business. “Energy and machine parts organizations, transportation entities and automotive companies—all of those segments and organizations are looking to have the Mohegan Sun and the Earth Expo & Convention Center as their home for many years to come.”
Upon opening, the Earth Expo & Convention Center secured deals with United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), the National Association of Postal Supervisors and the Connecticut Marine Trades Association, among other corporations and organizations.
To fill the expo and convention center consistently since June 2018 (COVID-associated temporary closures aside), Mohegan Sun has struck a balance between weekend and mid-week reservations for corporate and association tradeshows. “We pivot from the consumer groups — that don’t have large [hotel] room blocks but are driving foot traffic into our entertainment complex” to business conventions involving overnight stays, Washko told Native Business. “We’re focused on consumer show segments on the weekends and our business-to-business (B2B) shows during the week.”
The Earth Expo & Convention Center features ballroom space for receptions and dining, 15 meeting rooms for breakout sessions, an executive boardroom, and all the amenities.