WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP — A multi-million dollar expansion project is planned at Mohegan Sun Arena near Wilkes-Barre.
Officials say they’re trying to compete with a new arena coming to the Lehigh Valley.
The Mohegan Sun Arena is already 15 years old. Work on this expansion is expected to start in the fall with a goal of attracting people to get to the arena early and stay late after the big events are over.
The competition is typically on the ice during Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey games inside the Mohegan Sun Arena, but Luzerne County Convention Center Authority officials say they’re now feeling the heat from a new arena under construction 60 miles away in downtown Allentown.
“It’s their honeymoon period so the shows and things that we can’t get at our arena are going there just because they are the new kid on the block,” said authority member Donna Cupinski.
Cupinski says it’s too early to give specifics on the expansion coming to the Mohegan Sun Arena but it’s expected to include a new lounge where club members can see the game in action, plus more food and drink options.
“Instead of sitting in their cars waiting for doors to open, they can come into this area, enjoy food or a beverage, and also at the end, instead of fighting the traffic, they’ll be able to come and sit in there.”
“I think it’s an excellent idea to compete with Allentown,” said Toni Vanreeth of Mountain Top. “Allentown is way too far away for me to drive. I would much rather be here locally and to support this local area.”
The arena expansion is not the only addition coming to the Wyoming Valley. A Motel 6 as well as a brand new Courtyard Marriott are both expected to open up later this summer, and both are expected to bring new jobs.
That’s good news for Malikah Simmons who has friends and family struggling to find work.
“It’s really tough out here these days, getting a job. Nobody wants to hire anybody, you know? Everybody’s getting laid off, nobody wants to hire.”
The $3.6 million for this expansion project came from bond money secured a few years ago.
Arena officials say this is a tough season. One of their only big events this summer is a Jehovah’s Witness convention.