Atlantic City - A Successful Meetings Destination

SUCCESSFUL MEETINGS February 2007 Last year was extraordinary for Atlantic City, complete with highs, lows, and rumors of new development to come. Currently, the destination is positively shiny with restaurants, shops, and venues, with more to come, like new shuttle train service between New York and Atlantic City expected to be launched this year.

Essential Tool Box
Convention Centers:
Atlantic City Convention Center, 500,000 sf of dedicated meeting space, with 45 meeting rooms accommodating 3,300 theater-style; Historic Boardwalk Hall, 119,500 sf of floor space, accommodating up to 13,800 theater-style.
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For More Info:
Atlantic City CVA
www.meetinac.com

The Big News
Recently, State Senator Bill Gormley suggested that Historic Boardwalk Hall be converted into a $3-billion retail mall and hotel casino-not unlike Washington D.C.'s Union Station. Opponents decry the plan, which, if realized, would leave the region without a performance venue of similar capacity. Last year, Boardwalk Hall grossed $30.5 million in ticket sales, and was named the top venue in the mid-size market by industry tracker Billboard.

The proposal, however, has been the most concrete development coming out of rumors that Steve Wynn is planning to return to Atlantic City, the site of his first triumph. Wynn has been seen conversing with Governor Jon Corzine as well as Donald Trump, who is in the midst of constructing a new hotel tower for the 1,250-room Trump Taj Mahal, comprising 786 rooms that include 70 suites with ocean views (expected to open in 2008). At presstime, the rumors are flying that Wynn and Trump plan to demolish the 904-room Trump Plaza adjacent to Boardwalk Hall and build a glitzy new resort, for which the Hall "mall" would be a part.

In the meantime, Pinnacle Entertainment shuttered the Sands Hotel & Casino in Nov, which it plans to demolish this year; it begins construction on a new megaresort in 2008.

Facilities Update
Construction is moving toward a 2007 opening at the 2,000-room Borgata. Phase II will comprise the 800-room Water Club tower; a two-story, 36,000-sf "spa in the sky"; and 18,000 sf of meeting space and six retail shops. Last Jul, the resort opened a new restaurant and casino expansion, featuring dining venues by chefs Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Bobby Flay, and Luke Palladino.
* Four blocks of shops along the Boardwalk are getting a fresh, new look.
* The Steel Pier, which was slated to be closed, will be open for the 2007 season.
* Harrah's expansion will be a 964-room hotel tower, featuring 183 suites and 13 supersuites for high rollers. The expansion, to be completed mid-2008, will also add 172,000 sf of retail and entertainment space.
* Aztar Corporation, owner of the 1,624-room Tropicana, is completing the merger with Columbia Entertainment announced last Oct.
* The Pier at Caesars opened in Jul with up to 40 upscale shops. In Jun, the fourth-floor Atlantic Club will open, featuring three meeting and function rooms that can accommodate up to 200 people in theater-style seating.

Groups Should Consider
Groups should consider these recommendations from the Successful Meetings Home Team experts. The top choice is the 2,000-room Borgata.

Contributors to this section includes Home Team member Mary-Ann Urbanovich. Contact them at [email protected]
Not a Bad Seat in the House
Whether she is accompanied by an orchestra or playing alone at the piano, a Barbra Streisand performance is unforgettable. Especially when it takes place at an equally memorable venue, like Atlantic City's legendary Boardwalk Hall.

Before the concert, I was invited to a cocktail party held by the Atlantic City CVA at the Knife & Fork restaurant. Resembling a small red-roofed Finnish castle, the restaurant was founded as a private club in 1912; the party itself was held in what was once a third-floor apartment, now transformed into a wine cellar and private event space. It is very charming, with hardwood floors, exposed brick, and great views of the ocean. The restaurant has four additional dining areas as well.

I learned that Boardwalk Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, having opened in 1929. It received an extensive renovation in 2001 that restored the original 151-foot-high curved ceiling and finished it with ceramic tiles in golds and blues. The restoration preserved the landmark's character, but transformed the building into a modern special events space capable of seating 13,800 people, as well as adding an updated sound system.

During the concert, I was once again invited by the ACCVA, this time to the hall's Musician's Balcony, where they were giving another party. Overlooking the stage, the balcony seats around 30, but has standing room for more. It's great for a small gathering, since catering can be brought in.

Streisand sounded wonderful no matter where I sat, and the large video screens on the sides of the stage were a plus. It seems there are no bad seats and the acoustics and lighting effects are wonderful.-Jennifer Levey

Readers Recommend
Our subscribers gave Pinnacle Awards to the following:

Borgata Hotel & Casino

Tropicana Hotel Resort & Casino

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