Contact: David Zuba, Publicist, Media Relations/Communications
CRDA INVESTMENT IN ATLANTIC CITY SERIES, part two:
HARRAH’S WATERFRONT CONFERENCE CENTER –
COURTING THE LUCRATIVE CORPORATE MEETINGS INDUSTRY
Geared to attract the robust East Coast corporate meetings market
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – (Thursday, March 12, 2015) – The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) is committed to building a better future for the City of Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Tourism District, and our surrounding region through strategic initiatives that are geared to re-position the city as clean, safe, multi-faceted, year-round destination and community.
Since the adoption of the Tourism District legislation on February 1, 2011, the CRDA has attracted more than $700 million worth of capital investment to the city with more than $250 million in investment currently in progress.
Atlantic City, with more than 15,000 hotel rooms, 800,000 square feet of conference space and 500,000 square feet of available Convention Center exhibit space, annually attracts more than 25 million visitors to its shores every year for both business and pleasure. The city’s eight casino hotel properties generated nearly $2.5 billion in gaming revenue in 2014, while the city also boasts nearly $1 billion in annual non-gaming revenues.
Throughout this series, we will profile many of the projects that are breathing new life into Atlantic City through new entertainment, shopping and dining options that provide added jobs for local residents and revenue-producing tax ratables for the city, as well as new, modern housing units.
Located in Atlantic City’s MarinaDistrict and overlooking scenic Absecon Channel and Inlet, the new $126 million Harrah’s WaterfrontConferenceCenter is set to position Atlantic City as a leader in the Northeast for the lucrative corporate business meetings market.
Once completed this September, the 100,000-square-foot conference center will be the largest, most technologically advanced meeting facility between Baltimore and Boston.
“This ultimately will be a game-changer for the meetings market in Atlantic City,” said CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri. “This facility will innovate and stimulate mid-week business in Atlantic City for hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment.”
While currently attracting about one percent of a $16 billion corporate meetings market in the Northeast, the Harrah’s WaterfrontConferenceCenter is answering the call from prospective clients who are seeking state-of-the-art amenities and large and adaptable meeting space along with world-class dining and leisure activities for their business associates and partners.
The conference center’s list of world-class features will undoubtedly be an impressive selling point for interested corporate clients seeking a laid-back, seashore alternative to the congested, big city atmosphere.
The spacious Avalon and Wildwood ballrooms will each offer nearly 50,000 square feet of highly-configurable space that may also be made into 29 separate breakout rooms. Each ballroom may accommodate nearly 5,500 reception attendees or more than 3,400 classroom participants.
The Atlantic City ballroom, at 13,200 square feet, will accommodate 1,300 for a grand reception, 1,200 in theatre-style seating or 800 for banquets. The ballroom’s space may also be divided into seven different sections that will open up to The Gallery, which will feature 4,400 square feet of prefunction space.
Three other small-sized ballrooms will offer a total of 6,200 square feet of space of varying dimensions and accommodate a total of nearly 500 attendees. Lastly, The Concert Venue will have room for more than 1,200 attendees.
With six months to go until the official grand opening, the conference center is already generating plenty of interest and booking dozens of meetings that will have a positive impact on the city’s bottom line and perception as a world-class corporate meetings destination.
“The Harrah’s Atlantic City Waterfront Conference Center currently has over $16.1 million in projected revenue from more than 60 definite bookings, and an additional almost $10 million in sales pending,” said Michael Massari, senior VP of national meetings & events for Caesars Entertainment.
Construction has generated nearly 350 jobs for highly-skilled laborers and is, according to Massari, “going smoothly as the building is sealed and interior construction is well underway.”
The conference center, offering a unique meeting space that is highly sought by large, Fortune 500-style corporations and businesses, will complement the current Atlantic City convention center, which opened in 1997 and is home to many popular annual conventions and trade shows. In 2014, the convention center hosted 92 events and more than 332,000 attendees over the course of 196 event days. These 92 events led to more than $129 million in delegate spending and more than 95,000 room nights at Atlantic City hotel properties.
The prospect of luring large, corporate meetings to the city could mean an increase in the number of visitors taking advantage of Atlantic City’s InternationalAirport (ACY). While Atlantic City is an attractive and convenient driving destination for nearly one third of the country’s population and 20 percent of the country’s business addresses, ACY has recently expanded its international reach with seasonal air service through Air Canada. Meeting attendees from throughout Canada may now fly into Atlantic City, via Toronto, from many major Canadian cities.
“The new Harrah’s Conference center is exactly what it takes to generate the year-round air service demand that will benefit the entire community,’’ said E.J. Mullins, program director for the Port Authority of NY/NJ at Atlantic City International Airport. “Only minutes away, ACY’s world-class air terminal will be a perfect complement to this state-of-the-art facility.”
Once completed, the conference center, which is being funded by $80 million in equity financing by Harrah’s, $45 million from the CRDA and $24.1 million in tax breaks over 20 years from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, is expected to generate between 60-140 permanent jobs.
At a time when the stakes are high for Atlantic City, the Harrah’s WaterfrontConferenceCenter is coming along at the most opportune time for the city as it once again looks to reinvent itself and prove the naysayers wrong.
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The only agency of its kind nationwide, the CRDA has used Atlantic City casino reinvestments as a catalyst for meaningful, positive improvement in the lives of New Jersey residents, investing nearly $2 billion in more than 400 projects statewide since 1984. Under the 2011 Tourism District Act, CRDA’s mission evolved from statewide projects to becoming the state’s key economic development agency for Atlantic City. CRDA responsibilities expanded to include land use regulation, clean and safe initiatives, tourism marketing, ownership and oversight of the Atlantic CityConvention Center and Boardwalk Hall, and partnership with the Atlantic City Alliance to brand and market Atlantic City. The former ACCVA, now a division of CRDA, is the first destination marketing organization in New Jersey to achieve prestigious Destination Marketing Accreditation by the Destination Marketing Association International.
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