Hurricanes and COVID-19 have wrought economic devastation on Puerto Rico, but two groups intend to change the island’s fortunes by redeveloping the historic El San Juan Casino.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and LionGrove on Wednesday said they have formed a partnership to reopen the iconic casino as Foxwoods El San Juan Casino.
The Mashantucket Tribe is based in Connecticut and is the operator of the Foxwoods Resort Casino. LionGrove is a hospitality investment firm headquartered in Miami.
The Fairmont El San Juan Hotel recently received $125m in renovations, and the two entities said they will invest another $12.5m in the casino. In addition, the partners will reopen the Tropicoro entertainment venue.
Officials predicted these investments and the opening of the casino will generate an economic impact of $22m in Puerto Rico, creating a projected 360 new jobs in the region.
The El San Juan originally debuted in the 1960s, and the Tropicoro’s stage drew stars such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Martin, Liza Minnelli, Rita Moreno, Paul Anka and others.
“Our success and experience with operating Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut will allow us to effectively expand our footprint,” Rodney Butler, Mashantucket Pequot tribal chairman, said in a statement. “Bringing together our resort experience and expertise with Fairmont El San Juan’s renowned brand, we believe we can bring real economic and employment growth to Puerto Rico.”
Andro Nodarse-León, LionGrove founder and CEO, said the company acquired El San Juan Hotel in 2015, completed a $65m renovation of El San Juan Hotel in 2017 and subsequently, following Hurricane Maria, a $60m restoration that led to its rebranding as the Fairmont El San Juan Hotel in January 2020.
“With this great partnership, we are bringing one of the strongest casino brands in the world to Puerto Rico,” Nodarse-León said.
The Governor of Puerto Rico, Honorable Pedro Pierluisi, added: “I am incredibly pleased with the reopening of El San Juan Casino, which will result in the creation of hundreds of jobs. The tourism sector represents a great opportunity for our economic development and my commitment is to enhance it.”