The focus of a hearing today in Hartford that will be heard by the Freedom of Information Committee is MGM Resort International‘s second complaint regarding the Connecticut Airport Authority’s (CAA) use of executive sessions, and its claim that it is exempt from having to provide the public with access to information and discussions about its bid to bring a casino to Bradley International Airport.
The practice where only select individuals are able to access the CAA’s negotiating strategy was defended by Kevin Dillion, CAA”s executive director on Wednesday, saying that it’s trying to protect public interests while it competes for the state’s third casino, according to the Meriden Record-Journal. In the first complaint filed by MGM earlier this year, Dillon said that allowing the public access to negotiating strategy discussions would allow competitor advantage. He also said at the time that the authority believes it is within its rights to go into executive session due to the fact that right-to-know laws exempt lease negotiations and a lease would be necessary if a casino is established at the airport. Dillon added that should the authority be selected to host the casino, it would provide the public with any required approvals from the town and any proposals. A lawyer for MGM, Ann Rubin, said that the authority is wrongly claiming exemption and that the talks should take place during the public portion of its meetings.
The tribal operators of Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are interested in building a casino along Interstate 91 just north of Hartford and the proposal by the CAA is that it be located in Windsor Locks at Bradley International Airport. MMCT is considering three other bids in addition to the CAA’s from developers who suggest building on land that is privately owned. MMCT is the joint venture established by the Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket Pequots tribes in Connecticut for the purpose of setting up a satellite casino in the state to compete with MGM’s $950 million casino in neighboring Springfield currently being built and expected to open in 2018. Dillion said that the public would be at a disadvantage if the details of the negotiations were disclosed at this time.
Meanwhile, two potential locations have been outlined by the airport authority at Bradley International Airport. One is a new transportation center with a $225 million price tag or at the site of the former Murphy terminal.