Atlantic City leaders push non-gaming agenda
Unless a buyer comes forward in the final hours, two casino hotels in Atlantic City will shut down this holiday weekend, and local leaders continue to move full steam ahead with transforming the city's reputation into more than just a place to gamble.
Mayor Don Guardian, along with the heads of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the Atlantic City Alliance, used a Tuesday teleconference to promote the non-gaming amenities that have been "long-forgotten" by visitors.
"Gaming is a big part of what we have to offer - true, but a bigger part is the exciting and colorful environment that surrounds it," Guardian said. "Assets like our pristine beaches, our historic boardwalk, the resort hotels, as well as our restaurants and dining options available to visitors of all kinds."
Guardian suggested the impending closures of Showboat and Revel, as well as the end of Trump Plaza next month, will serve as a launching pad for Atlantic City's transformation.
John Palmieri, CRDA executive director, said the city is targeting conventions "more aggressively than ever," and the city's tens of thousands of hotel rooms serve as a solid incentive.
"That's going to be part and parcel of the creation of a new and more aggressive effort to create additional reasons for visitation here," Palmieri said.
A waterfront conference center by Harrah's is scheduled to open by the end of next year.
Much of the positive news out of Atlantic City recently has been the result of well-attended events such as free beach concerts and an air show over the ocean. Liza Cartmell, ACA president, said special events are also planned for every weekend in September, including the DO AC Boardwalk Wine Promenade and the Miss America Pageant.
Cartmell said Atlantic City has a strong opportunity right now to ultimately succeed, despite the loss of three major casino operations and thousands of jobs.
"For over 30 years, we've been known pretty much only for gaming, but Atlantic City has been and always will be more than just gaming," Cartmell said.
Officials cited a recent spike in non-gaming casino spending and expanded payrolls for retail and food-and-beverage establishments.