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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Mohegan Sun Arena – Connecticut Sun



Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Mohegan Sun Arena 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd Uncasville, CT 06382

Year Opened: 2001 Capacity: 9,323

 

The Sun Also Rises


There are a few areas in the United States that can genuinely be considered to be women’s basketball hotbeds. One such area would be the state of Connecticut. Buoyed by the ultra-successful UConn program, the state follows the sport with a passion not seen in many other areas.

The WNBA took advantage of this basketball fever by moving the former Orlando Miracle to the Nutmeg State ‎in 2003. At the time, the Sun was the only WNBA team not sharing a market with an NBA partner.

The team’s nickname comes from its affiliation with the Mohegan Sun Casino, and the team’s logo is an interpretation of an ancient Mohegan tribal symbol. The Mohegan Tribe was the first Native American tribe to own a professional sports franchise.

The Sun have qualified for the WNBA playoffs in 14 of their 20 seasons. They have made the league finals on four occasions, most recently in 2022. The Sun have yet to win the WNBA championship.

Food & Beverage 3

Mohegan Sun Arena has simplified their concessions menu in recent years. The options do not stray too far from arena basics. Considering the great number of dining options just steps from the arena’s front door, it makes sense that the bulk of the menu consists of snack foods. Depending on the size of the crowd, some stands may not be open during your visit. This does not affect wait times, however, as the staff make sure lines move quickly.

The most popular concession item at Mohegan Sun Arena is certainly the slices of pizza from local legend Frank Pepe’s. At just five dollars for an oversized slice of cheese or pepperoni, it’s also a great deal.

Coca-Cola products are featured at Mohegan Sun Arena. Fans looking for an adult beverage will not be disappointed, either. Several national brands of beers are sold here, including Sam Adams, Bud Light, Blue Moon and Coors Light. Craft beer from Elysian, Gray Sail and Wormtown Breweries are popular items as well. There are stands solely dedicated to adult beverages, which feels entirely appropriate given the arena’s location in a casino.

Atmosphere 5

The Sun do their best to put on a family-friendly game day experience in a location that certainly would not be considered family friendly. As you enter the arena, you are likely to be greeted by Blaze, the team’s orange mascot, who spends the beginning of its evening interacting with fans. The team’s dance squad, Solar Power, is also present at the entrances.

Local organizations line the concourse running raffles and offering some giveaways. Feel free to sign up for contests and pick up a free roster sheet while you circle the concourse. The interior of the arena has been designed to mimic the overall esthetic of the casino and evoke the look of the local forest.

As you enter the seating bowl, you’ll notice the scoreboard. While it’s got a crystal-clear picture and is put to good use with hype videos, replays and promotions, it’s absolutely tiny by today’s standards. On either end of the seating bowl are additional video boards that also contain basic game stats.

The Sun staff do their best to keep everyone entertained during their visit. From pyrotechnics during player introductions to music played during the action to the presence of three dance teams (a squad of young dancers and a squad of older dancers join the Solar Power dancers), there’s plenty to see and do. Throw in contests during play stoppages, t-shirt tosses, it’s almost sensory overload at Mohegan Sun Arena.


Neighborhood 5

Eastern Connecticut is an area full of small towns and wooded countryside removed from the urban areas of southern New England. Still, Mohegan Sun Casino is centrally located within the region, and is located roughly an hour from Providence, Worcester, Hartford, and New Haven. Neighboring Foxwoods Casino is just over 10 miles to the east.

Mohegan Sun is one of the largest casinos in the United States, with over 364,000 square feet of gaming space. For fans who come to Sun games and do not want to gamble, the casino also contains theaters, night clubs, 44 different restaurants with enough variety to satisfy any appetite, and 130,000 square feet of retail space, all located just steps from the arena’s front entrance. While the casino may not be your traditional neighborhood, the number and variety of entertainment choices available before or after a Sun game are impressive. More information about Mohegan Sun’s dining, entertainment and lodging options can be found here.

Fans visiting the area during the summer months of the WNBA season may wish to visit nearby Mystic, a seaside town and tourist attraction known for its historic seaport, maritime museum, preserved sailing ships and aquarium. It’s a popular destination for travelers in the area.

Fans 3

The Sun have ranked fourth or fifth in the WNBA in attendance in each of the last four seasons, averaging just under 7,000 fans per game. Early in the 2022 season, the Sun are once again sitting in fifth place in the league rankings, with an average of just under 5,000 fans per game. Attendance generally picks up over the course of the season, so you can expect this figure to increase.

Even though the Sun play in a casino, where you wouldn’t figure to see a whole lot of younger fans, you will find a good mix of families here at Mohegan Sun Arena to catch a basketball game. The Suns do their best to create a family-friendly atmosphere, and their efforts show in the stands, although the crowd does skew older than in other arenas, given the court’s location. This also may be due to the casino’s location in a less-populated area.

Access 5

Mohegan Sun Casino is located just off Interstate 395, which runs north-south through eastern Connecticut. Interstate 95, which runs east-west parallel to the Connecticut shoreline, is just a few miles away. Route 2A (Exit 9) off of I-395 will deposit fans right at the Casino.

There are several free parking garages surrounding the casino, none of which are more than a 10-minute walk to the arena entrance. If you can resist the bells and lights of the casino floor, you will be at the game in no time. For the garage closest to the arena, park in the Riverview Garage.

Once inside the arena, fans will enter into a clean, attractive concourse that is more than large enough to handle a typical Sun crowd. As mentioned earlier, not all concession stands are opened for Sun games, but lines are not long and move quickly. Likewise, restrooms are clean and more than large enough to handle a typical Sun crowd. The merchandise stands have been moved into permanent locations along the inner edge of the concourse, and many of the portable beer carts have been removed, which has greatly reduced congestion and improved traffic flow around the facility.

The steeply-pitched seating area is octagonal and separated into upper and lower levels. All seats are individual padded stadium seats, colored maroon in the lower level and blue in the upper. The arena is designed to accommodate several different types of events, and for basketball, the view from all seats are excellent.


Return on Investment 4

Tickets to a Sun game start at just $12 for upper-level seats near the top of the seating bowl, increasing in price to $62 for premium seats at center court. Plenty of seats can be found for under $40 per ticket. If you are planning to purchase tickets at the arena box office to avoid online charges, be aware that the box office charges an $8 facility fee. If you are planning to bring the family to Mohegan Sun Arena, be sure to check out the 4-Packs of Fun package, containing 4 game tickets, food, snacks and drinks starting at $129.

Parking is free in the garages that surround the casino. Concessions at the arena are priced similarly to other venues in the area.

If you can resist the siren call of the gaming floor, you will find your visit to Mohegan Sun Arena to be a most affordable evening of entertainment. Who knows, you may even end up leaving the place with more money than you had upon arrival!

Extras 3

An extra point is awarded for the overall visual appeal of the Mohegan Sun Arena. The facility was designed to evoke the surrounding forests of eastern Connecticut and to fit in with the overall style of the casino. The muted colors and Native American decor are not often seen at a sporting facility, and make for a very visually pleasing venue. Just outside the entrance to the arena visitors will find an indoor waterfall, as well as several mechanical wolves atop faux stone towers. These wolves will sit back, wag their tails and howl from time to time.

Just outside the Arena is a Walk of Fame which honors some of the bigger acts to have played at the arena. Also, just steps from the arena entrance is the Wolf Den, where up-and-coming artists, as well as some well-known names, play free concerts. Acts as diverse as Herman’s Hermits, Maxi Priest, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Los Lonely Boys and Buck Cherry have played free shows in this intimate, 300-seat setting.

Hanging from the rafters at the Mohegan Sun Arena are several banners, honoring the team’s conference championships, Billy Joel’s ten consecutive sellouts at the facility, and the “Fight of the Century” between Mickey Ward and Arturo Gatti, which took place here on May 28, 2002. Other banners contain several Sun retired numbers and commemorate Mohegan Sun Arena’s “Venue of the Year” awards.



Final Thoughts

While a casino in the woods of eastern Connecticut may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of where to bring the family for an evening of sporting fun, the Mohegan Sun Arena is an excellent facility. There is something for everyone at Mohegan Sun, even the younger fans. And if some adult entertainment is what you are looking for, the options located just steps from the arena’s front door are numerous and outstanding.

Follow Paul Baker's Stadium Journeys on Twitter and Instagram at @PuckmanRI.

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