Casino, Convention Center Proposed for Meadowlands in N.J.

Although New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has made the revival of Atlantic City his No. 1 tourism priority, the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce in Rutherford, N.J., wants him to multitask, as it has unveiled a comprehensive long-term redevelopment plan for the Meadowlands in Northern Jersey that it hopes the governor will consider.

According to local newspaper The Record, that plan calls for stimulating tourism to the Meadowlands region with a new casino, a new convention center, six hotels, a spa and an aquatics center.

"There is no reason for the future of the Meadowlands to be postponed while Atlantic City works out of its troubles," Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce President Jim Kirkos told The Record. "Even if the state were to start right now issuing requests for proposals, it would take at least four years to open any one of the facilities we have proposed. Atlantic City's future will be long settled by then. In the meantime, the parking lots at Yonkers Raceway and [at a casino in] Bethlehem, Pa., are full of cars with New Jersey plates that may never go back to Atlantic City. But they would come to the Meadowlands."

According to Kirkos, the proposed convention center would be 400,000 to 600,000 square feet — a "perfect niche" between the 70,000-square-foot Meadowlands Convention Center and the nearly 1 million square feet that the Javits Center in nearby New York will have when it completes its latest expansion — while the casino would be 150,000 square feet. The six hotels, meanwhile, would have a total of 3,250 guest rooms.

While Christie's sports and entertainment adviser, Jon F. Hanson, has rejected the idea of expanding gaming beyond Atlantic City, he told The Record that the convention center idea "has some possibilities."