The 49th annual Hartford Boat Show will return to the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford from Feb. 8-11, 2018, but the following year it will move to the new Mohegan Sun Expo Center.
The Connecticut Marine Trades Association, which produces the show, signed the first year’s contract of a three-year agreement with the Mohegan Sun casino on Thursday.
Mohegan Sun said in a statement that the Expo Center is approaching its final stages of construction at the resort in Uncasville, Conn. The CMTA’s 50th annual boat show will be held at the Expo Center in January of 2019.
Kathleen Burns, executive director of the CMTA, said the trade group has been discussing the move with Mohegan Sun for several months. She said the CMTA’s show has had crossover dates with the New England Boat Show in Boston, which was not good for the Hartford show’s dealers and exhibitors or for the industry.
The show’s dates in 2019 will be Jan. 17-21. It has been at the convention center in Hartford since 2005.
“We are very excited” about the move to Mohegan Sun, Burns said. “We had a very long and prosperous relationship with the Connecticut Convention Center.”
Mohegan Sun said its major convention space expansion totals 250,000 square feet and will include the 125,000-square-foot Expo Center, a 20,000 square-foot Earth Ballroom, 15 meeting rooms and 20,000 square feet for new dining or entertainment space. The expansion is on schedule, and the new facilities are expected to open next summer.
Burns, CMTA chairman Ron Helbig and CMTA director and show committee chairman Phil Gaudreau celebrated the signing Thursday with Mohegan Sun leaders. They included Kevin “Red Eagle” Brown, Mohegan tribal chairman; Jeff Hamilton, assistant general manager; and John Washko, vice president of expo and convention sales.
The 2018 Hartford show is sponsored by Evinrude, and it will feature more than 125 exhibitors and 400 boats and watercraft at the convention center.
"What a great time of year to get excited about thinking about getting back on the water,” Burns said in a statement. “The Super Bowl will be behind us, and for many boaters who will be going into the water within the next eight to 12 weeks following the show, it's a great time to start to make plans about purchases and trips."
The event will cover the entire space available at the convention center on two levels, with boats, exhibits, demonstration and educational areas and hospitality features.
Products on exhibit will include boats of all kinds and sizes, jet skis, personal watercraft, paddle sports, kayaks, marinas, motors, slip rentals, servicing, fishing gear and tackle, educational programs and materials, insurance, trailers and electronics.
Burns said cooperative efforts between customers and dealers, among dealers, state and municipal organizations, and destination agencies and sponsors have resulted in two new 2018 show features.
Welcome 2 Our Waters: Destination CT is a special exhibit hall section highlighting shore-side activities, destinations, attractions, and food and beverage.
Sponsored by Renewal by Anderson, the new Window on the Future section will feature students from the Thompson Public School District's boatbuilding program constructing a small wooden boat; boatbuilding activities for kids; the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; New England Science and Sailing; and the Cedar Island Marine Research Lab.
The CMTA said Connecticut's recreational boating industry has an annual economic impact of more than $1.3 billion in direct, indirect and induced spending. Annual retail sales of new boats, engines, accessories and services account for $157.7 million.