November 12, 2018

Hartford Boat Show docks at Mohegan Sun

PHOTO | Mohegan Sun
PHOTO | Mohegan Sun
The new $80 million Earth Expo & Convention Center at Mohegan Sun will host the 2019 Hartford Boat Show.

Mohegan Sun's new $80 million convention center will host another event in January that was formerly housed in downtown Hartford for the last half century.

The Hartford Boat Show, owned by nonprofit Connecticut Marine Trades Association (CMTA), will celebrate its 50th year at Mohegan's new Earth Expo & Convention Center from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20. As previously announced, CMTA signed the first year's contract of a three-year agreement with Mohegan.

Meantime, Mohegan's 250,000-square-foot venue this past weekend held the three-day Connecticut International Auto Show, which was a longtime annual exhibitor at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

Hartford's loss of the two prominent downtown expos underscores the increasingly competitive market for luring conventions and entertainment performances. MGM Springfield's new $960 casino, which has 34,000 square feet of convention and meeting space,is also expected to crowd the industry.

Kathleen Burns, CMTA's executive director, said the association moved the boat show from Hartford's XL Center, then the Civic Center, to the Connecticut Convention Center when it opened in 2005.

CMTA, Burns said, is moving the show again to Mohegan in 2019 to avoid crossover dates with the New England Boat Show in Boston and the New York Boat Show. Moving up the date, she says, gives the show an upper hand showing off the newest watercraft models.

"When you are lost in the middle you have to make sure you are positioning yourself in the public eye and not competing with a show only 60 miles away," Burns said.

The inaugural show at Mohegan is expected to draw 15,000 visitors and between 350 to 400 watercrafts from more than 120 exhibitors. About 40 exhibitors are boat dealers representing their brands.

CMTA said attendance was up 33 percent for the 2018 Boat Show held at the Connecticut Convention Center from Feb. 8 to Feb. 11, and attendance rose by 14 percent and 25 percent over 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Meantime, the Connecticut Convention Center's overseer, the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), is hiring an adviser to examine new marketing opportunities for the meetings-events facility.

CRDA released its request for qualifications (RFQs) last week for potential consultants-advisers with a deadline of Nov. 12 to submit their RFPs to CRDA. At least three marketing and feasibility studies have examined the convention center, the quasi-public agency says.

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