Mohegan Secures Development Partner for Inspire Korea, Awaits Decision on Inspire Athens

Whereas phase one of Project Inspire in South Korea is slated to open in 2022, the Paramount-branded theme park will debut as part of the resort’s “phase 1B” in 2025. 

Inspire Korea, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment’s ambitious $5 billion integrated resort, is rising in Incheon, South Korea. Phase one of construction, priced at $1.6 billion, is underway with a forecasted opening date of early 2022. Most recently, the gaming arm inked a new development partner, Korea’s Hanwha Corporation. 

“In connection with Inspire, we are pleased to announce our partnership with Hanwha Corporation, one of the country’s largest conglomerates, who will serve as our primary general contractor and will also provide the project with important local operational expertise and credit enhancement,” Mohegan revealed.

Hanwha Corporation has injected $100 million worth into the project. The Korean partners will also manage non-gaming operations property-wide.

Other methods of financing include a $300 million cash investment from Mohegan itself, $900 million from a consortium of “blue chip” Korean institutions, $200 million worth of infrastructure and improvements by Incheon International Airport Corp, and another $200 million acquired through loans. 

Phase 1 of development of the integrated resort (IR) near Incheon Airport will include 150 table games and 700 electronic gaming machines, a 15,000-seat arena, an indoor climate-controlled dome with a pool and rides, dining and retail, a 19,000-square-meter conference and convention space, and 1,250 hotel rooms.

The Tribal enterprise won its license to develop an IR near Seoul, South Korea, in 2016. Casino gaming will be strictly available to foreign nationals.

While Mohegan recently made its first international expansion — assuming management control of casinos in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, in June — and construction on Inspire Korea is currently underway, the Mohegan Tribe’s gaming arm is also looking at building on other foreign lands. 

Architect Paul Steelman says Inspire Athens’ proposed towers are modeled on Greece’s Caryatids and other cultural elements.

Inspire Athens

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is awaiting the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s decision, anticipated this month, on the winner of the bid to build an integrated resort with a sports center in Athens, Greece — part of the country’s initiative to transform its former Hellinikon airport property.

Mohegan is up against Hard Rock International, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The winner will have an effective monopoly on gaming in Athens.

It remains to be seen if Kontomerkos’ Greek heritage — and very evident affection for the country (during his presentation to Greek stakeholders this fall, he described how he “wept” over the pain experienced by the people of Greece during the economic crisis) — will give MGE a leg up in the competition. But Kontomerkos also believes MGE’s selection of a top-notch architectural team and it’s awe-worthy rendering merit attention. 

MGE’s proposed two-tower design is modeled to resemble the Caryatids, the female statues that support the Parthenon, the ancient temple atop Athens’ Acropolis. 

Mohegan’s proposal calls for a luxury hotel, entertainment venues, a convention center and retail, dining and a large gaming floor. 

“It’s the No. 1 project for the government of Greece,” Kontomerkos said alluding to the fact that Athens accounts for more than a third of the Greek economy. “You change the trajectory of the city, you change the trajectory of the country.”

Japan: On Hold

MGE’s international ambitions have also incorporated Japan. MGE went as far as to open a new office in Tomakomai, a city on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, in October. The plan was to build a homebase to act as a showroom for its proposed $3.5 billion-$4.5 billion Integrated Resort in the city of Tomakomai, a winter resort destination in Hokkaido.

But the Hokkaido prefecture recently dropped out of the bid to secure one of Japan’s three casino licenses, citing environmental concerns. 

Now Kontomerkos has taken a step back, acknowledging that any forward movement by MGE in Japan is now “extremely speculative at this point,” reported The Day. 

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