Responding to the upcoming closings of the Showboat Atlantic City Hotel and Casino (August 31, 2014), Revel (September 2, 2014) and Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (September 16, 2014), Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, along with Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Executive Director John Palmieri and Atlantic City Alliance President Liza Cartmell today reminded residents and visitors alike that significant progress is being made in the destination’s ongoing transition to a burgeoning, multi-faceted tourism mecca that is not focused solely on gaming.
Mayor Guardian acknowledged that the coming weeks will be difficult for the employees and for the resort destination as the closings will mean job losses at the three properties, but that he and others are working hard to provide solutions for those who will be displaced.
“We know that we still have some difficult waters to navigate, such as job replacement and retraining for our residents and the initial decrease in parking and luxury tax revenues,” said Mayor Don Guardian. “With all the changes, I’m here today to say that we’re still hopeful about Atlantic City’s future and hold firm to the fact that, as a city in transition, we are in a good position. The shift in our casino supply is indicative of a nationwide trend; virtually every other market with casino gaming has been impacted by competitive pressures.”
Mayor Guardian announced an inter-governmental program that includes gap assessment, employment training and job training in an effort to find alternative job placement for affected city residents. Continuing job training initiatives will also soon be available at Atlantic Cape Community College in the form of the $10 million Caesars Entertainment Wing for Hospitality and Gaming Studies, which will train up to 1,200 employees annually.
“We have made great strides through the public-private partnership between the CRDA, ACA and MEET AC with the state of NJ, Atlantic County and the city,” Palmieri said. “We are on track to drive $1 billion into the Tourism District within these first five years, which is all part of our plan that focuses on four key initiatives: attraction visitation, building the visitor experience, targeting meeting and conventions and investing in neighborhoods and job training.”
To date, some $778 million worth of economic development projects are already completed, and there is an additional $475 million of development in process or already under construction, including Bass Pro Shop, which will provide 86,000 square feet of destination retail and bring with it almost 300 full-and part-time jobs, and Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center, which will add more than 1,300 jobs.
There are also a significant number of pre-development concepts in the works, including the renovation of Tropicana and a new public market that will serve as an anchor attraction connecting Atlantic Avenue to the Boardwalk. And in an effort to capture more of the critical mid-week meetings and conventions business is the creation of Meet AC, a non-profit expected to add a potential 251,000 group room nights in the next 3-5 years.
BUILD NON-GAMING REVENUE IN ADDITION TO GAMING REVENUE
“We are making progress. Non-gaming spending has grown even as gaming declined,” Cartmell said. “Gaming now accounts for less than one-third of visitor spending. More than two-thirds of spending– 67.8 percent, to be precise –is non-gaming.”
Other figures of note that the officials cited include:
“We know that we are a tourism destination that has a huge amount of scale and enormous potential,” Mark Giannantonio, President and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel said. “It’s important to remember that there are still dozens of nightclubs, more than 100 restaurants, 15,000 hotel rooms, and a full roster of year-round headline entertainment for visitors to enjoy. We also boast one of the most successful outlet shopping centers on the East Coast.
Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance said, “We hosted more than 130,000 people in just two days of free beach concerts with Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum. In September alone, we have special events planned every weekend, including the DO AC Boardwalk Wine Promenade, the DO AC Pro Beach Volleyball Invitational, the iconic Miss America Pageant, the Longboard Invitational Surfing Competition and more. And we still have eight thriving casinos for those looking to game.Related Articles: