Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Marios Kontomerkos said that his company is ready to break ground once given the green light on its more than $1 billion integrated resort casino planned for Athens.
MGE, the gaming unit of the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, won a bidding war against rival US tribal and commercial casino operator Hard Rock International.
The two gaming giants competed to acquire a 30-year license to operate a casino at a massive new real estate development project that is unfolding on the former grounds of the Hellinikon International Airport.
The casino will be part of The Hellinikon Project, an €8 billion ($9 billion) redevelopment of the land along the famed Athens Riviera that includes a marina, acres of parks and recreational areas, condominiums and athletic facilities.
When the contract was awarded to Mohegan, an appeal was filed by Hard Rock to the Hellenic Gaming Commission but it was rejected.
“We have already done a detailed job to ensure that we start as soon as possible,” Kontomerkos said at an economic forum in mid-June.
He explained the company’s goal is to create the premiere entertainment destination in southern Europe. Mohegan has partnered on the project with local construction firm GEK TERNA.
Greek Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis said this week that the first phase of The Hellinikon Project will begin next month. Work will begin with site prep, which includes clearing the area and demolishing some 900 buildings and structures.
LAMDA Development was selected by Greek officials to reimagine the shuttered airport land. The Greek conglomerate has brought on additional investment partners, including Al Maabar from Abu Dhabi and Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group.
Mohegan Gaming is calling its Hellinikon project INSPIRE Athens. The resort is being designed by Steelman Partners, an international architectural firm that specializes in integrated resort concepts.
The property will feature a luxury hotel, entertainment venues, convention center, retail shopping, numerous restaurants, casino and “comprehensive mix of premium amenities.”
Kontomerkos believes the project is “more than an integrated resort,” but a “catalyst that sparks the entire development” of The Hellinikon Project.
Along with the integrated resort casino, The Hellinikon Project will accommodate additional hotels, luxury homes and condos, a marina, shopping district, office space, a public park the size of New York City’s Central Park and a nearly mile-long beach.
Hellinikon International was Athens’ main airport until it was replaced by Athens International Airport in 2001. The new airport was built in anticipation of the 2004 Summer Olympics, and the former Hellinikon grounds were used for several Olympic competitions, including canoe and kayak slalom, field hockey, baseball and softball.
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