Tribal Casino to Transform Into College Basketball Bubble

Mohegan Sun offers a secluded, single site with enormous square footage for social distancing. 

If there’s one thing many Tribal casinos have to their advantage, it’s space. A resort on Tribal land in Connecticut is leveraging that to host more than 30 collegiate basketball teams. 

Mohegan Sun will transform into a modified bubble for several early-season basketball tournaments, including two transferred from New York to this new location. 

Mohegan Sun houses a 10,000-seat arena, home to the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, but now the casino resort will become a basketball hub, as tournaments and other “pods” games descend on the property in coming weeks. 

Hosting sporting events amid the pandemic is not new for the resort, which installed ultraviolet lighting and special filters in its HVAC system upon reopening in June. Protocols include coronavirus testing, cleaning and management. The resort’s own medical staff will treat and isolate any infected individuals.

Over the summer, Mohegan and partner Viacom produced televised boxing matches and mixed martial arts events. 

“We’re just following the playbook we’ve already established and has been working brilliantly,” Tom Cantone, the senior vice president for sports and entertainment at Mohegan Sun, told the LA Times. “We will just continue to do what we’ve been doing with our doctors and protocols. So far, it’s worked flawlessly.”

Mohegan Sun has partnered with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Gazelle Group, both organizers of major men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. 

“It’s a single site, secluded location, with enormous square footage for social distancing,“ said Greg Procino, vice president of basketball operations for the Hall of Fame. “There are a lot of things that will work in our favor.” 

Tournaments kick off with the Empire Classic on November 25-26, featuring Villanova, Baylor, Arizona State and Boston College. Other teams traveling to Mohegan turf include UConn, USC, Virginia, Florida, St. John’s, UMass, Vanderbilt, BYU, Louisville, North Carolina State, among others. 

“We’ve been able to combine and leverage both our organizations and strengths to create something bigger than what we originally had,” Giles told the LA Times. “I don’t know if either organization individually could have pulled off what we’re about to do next month.“

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