Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) has announced the successful closing of financing to develop the Inspire Entertainment Resort on Yeongjong Island in Incheon, South Korea – a $1.55bn (£1.16bn/€1.36bn) project that will include a 15,000-seat arena.

The aggregate funding of $1.55bn will be used in Phase 1 of development for the Resort. The project is set to open its doors in 2023, seeking to inspire a revival of the South Korean tourism industry following COVID-19.

Along with the 15,000-seat multifunctional professional performance arena, the site includes three five-star hotel towers, a foreigners only casino, the largest convention facility in the Seoul metropolitan area, a world class retail offering, a year-round indoor water dome experience and a large outdoor thematic space, known as the ‘Family Park.’

“We have a proven track record in developing and operating leading integrated entertainment resorts in North America with our successes in Connecticut, Las Vegas and Niagara Falls, and we look forward to taking this success abroad as the first American IR launched in Korea,” said James Gessner Jr., chairman of the Mohegan Tribe and MGE management board.

Inspire Integrated Resort Co., Ltd., MGE’s wholly-owned Korean subsidiary, now has in place the funding needed for the completion of construction of the project, which includes a total of $575m in equity combining MGE’s $300m investment and the $275m raised through global private equity firms, Bain Capital and MBK Partners, and 1.04tn Korean won project finance loan (approximately $890m equivalent) raised through a three-bank Korean consortium including KB Securities, NH Investment & Securities and Hana Financial Investment, with the participation of Korean financial institutions and with Kookmin Bank Co., Ltd. as facility agent to the loan.

Hanwha Engineering & Construction Corp. is the general contractor for the project, which has provided a completion guarantee as well as a subordinated investment to the project in the amount of 100bn Korean won (approximately $85.5m equivalent). Hanwha Hotel and Resort Co., Ltd. is also participating as a strategic partner of the project and as the hotel operator.

Mohegan initially agreed the project with Incheon International Airport Corporation in June 2015. Inspire is part of a three-pronged resort vision for Incheon, alongside Paradise City and RFKR. Paradise City opened in April 2017, but the development of the other two has been delayed by COVID-19.

In October 2018, MGE joined forces with Live Nation Entertainment on a multi-year initiative to acquire talent for Inspire. The current construction completion progress has been placed at approximately 12%.

Bobby Soper, international president for MGE, added: “We anticipate a significant rebound in the tourism and leisure industry following the pandemic, and we look forward to contributing to the Korean economy while at the same time opening and operating a successful, state-of-the-art resort.”

Image: Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment