Happy birthday to the Atlantic City Convention Center. You look as good today as you did a quarter of a century ago.
The Atlantic City Convention Center officially opened on Thursday, May 1, 1997.
It opened with great excitement and high expectations for what the future held for Atlantic City as a major tourist destination.
A day after it opened on May 2, 1997, former New Jersey State Senator Steve Perskie quoted Sir Winston Churchill when he wrote an op-ed about the brand new convention center saying :
It’s not the end, or even the beginning of the end, but it may be the end of the beginning.
The Atlantic City Convention Center was a dynamic and ambitious project that spanned 20 years and was the vision of former New Jersey Senator William L. Gormley.
Gormley was a human force of nature…who managed to design and navigate the complicated maze of politics and finance…both sets of skills were required to complete…the brand new construction of a facility at state-of-the-art, featuring 500,000 square feet of contiguous space for meetings and conventions.
The funding was made possible when former Governor Jim Florio and Gormley worked effectively in a bipartisan fashion to merge funding for the convention center with a bailout from the then-New Jersey Sports Authority.
This fueled the dream of an Atlantic City Convention Center, giving it the final impetus needed to garner the broad legislative support necessary for its realization.
Make no mistake, this facility, coupled with Atlantic City’s multi-billion dollar casino industry, has put Atlantic City on the map.
This has allowed Atlantic City to be able to compete with all major jurisdictions in the country in attracting elite meetings and conventions.
The price tag for the Atlantic City Convention Center was $268 million. You couldn’t build it today for less than $800 million to $1 billion.
The cost would actually be prohibitive today, making it an even more impressive achievement once and for all.
Gormley secured the funding in such a way that not a single taxpayer dollar was spent to build the convention center.
Compare that to the ballpark and all the other big projects in Atlantic City that always hit local taxpayers hard in their personal pocketbooks.
Many have never had the opportunity to see the fabulous meeting and exhibition space. Below is a quick tour of some of the facilities at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Here’s an overview of the Keynote Session: table setup.
Here is the Keynote Session: Setting up the scene:
Here is an overview of the very flexible space of the showroom:
Here is a glimpse of one of the state-of-the-art meeting rooms:
The Atlantic City Convention Center offers world-class space for:
- Trade shows.
- Special events.
- Sport events.
Somewhere between 20 and 34 million visitors have come to Atlantic City each year for over 30 years.
In direct comparison, that compares to 16-18 million people visiting the so-called “happiest place on earth”… The Magic Kingdom of Disney World.
Prior to the advent of the Atlantic City Convention Center, the hallway was in poor condition. The convention center was the starting point to help fix Atlantic City from the foot of the Atlantic City Freeway…to the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.
The implementation of a world-class convention center was also behind the generation of the revenue needed for Atlantic City to market itself properly nationwide.
It was achieved thanks to the establishment of a tourist tax of 1 to 2 dollars which created the dedicated source of funding.
We reach out to Larry Sieg, President and CEO of MEETAC, the sales and marketing force that supports the Atlantic City Convention Center and Atlantic City Resort.
“As we continue to learn to live with COVID-19, we’re seeing more and more event planners start hosting their in-person meetings and conventions in our destination,” Sieg said.
“As we enter the high seasons of spring and summer, we expect to see these events increase in frequency and magnitude. This spring, we expect to see a total of 23,600 room nights generating $27 million in economic impact for the destination,” said Sieg.
In conclusion, you cannot overstate how important the Atlantic City Convention Center is to the overall success of Atlantic City as a world-class resort.