Tanger Outlet Mall Opens at Foxwoods
The Tanger Outlet mall that opens at Foxwoods on Thursday morning could bring two to three million new visitors to the casino each year. That’s the bet that the casino’s owners are making with the new $120 million destination retail venue.
The 300,000-square-foot facility employs 900 people across 85 stores. Chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, Rodney Butler, said this kind of diversification is key to Foxwoods’ future.
"The shoppers aren't necessarily gamers, gamers aren't necessarily shoppers, but there is some correlation," Butler told WNPR. "You see out in Vegas, where gaming was the primary source of revenue out there, they've now transitioned into retail entertainment, and gaming is kind of there if you want to do it."
The mall has been developed by Tanger Factory Outlets, which owns another facility in Westbrook, less than an hour from Foxwoods.
Steven Tanger, CEO of the company, says gaming and retail are natural partners, and he thinks the time is right for this expansion. "I think the economy is recovering," he said, "perhaps slower than most people had hoped, but candidly people feel a little better off than they did three and four and five years ago. They have more discretionary income; they may spend a little bit more on entertainment."
The mall is a major play to boost Foxwoods' flagging fortunes. Gaming revenue at the facility has been slipping consistently since the recession, and the advent of competition in Massachusetts can only make life more difficult.
Recent attempts by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to gain support in the legislature for the construction of three new Connecticut casinos seem to be encountering pushback, with lawmakers opting for a scaled back bill that may delay any new development.
"With the expansion of gaming throughout the region in New England, at some point it will be saturated," said Butler. He hopes upscale retail can draw attention to Foxwoods once again. "This is how we're going to grow our revenue base, outside of gaming, and create key differentiators between us and the rest of the competition out there."
The mall opens to the public at 10:00 am.