The way forward for Atlantic City is to diversify its economy, agreed panelists at the Carnegie Center event, sponsored by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism (LIGHT).
The first panel was an academic one with Busler, Tyrrell and Cooke, and moderated by Dr. Israel Posner, executive director of LIGHT.
The second, with industry experts Wieland, Pepenella and Joseph Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, was moderated by LIGHT’s new associate director, Felicia Grondin.
“This is a transition period and this is a good thing,” said Kelly. “”Starting to diversity is the key.”
He noted that the 85,000-square-foot Bass Pro shop just opened in Atlantic City and that Harrah’s is investing in a major new convention facility, showing confidence that the area will rebound.
Beyond that, Kelly said existing properties in Atlantic City should be repurposed as higher education facilities with a “renewable” customer base, as new students start their educations each year.
Busler said the city should attract or expand health care facilities, which along with the cultural and educational attractions of a university, would lead more Baby Boomers to retire here.
“Meds and Eds,” said Busler, summing up that redevelopment strategy.
Kelly said casinos, conventions and tourism events will always have a place in Atlantic City’s diversified economy. The Chamber sponsors the Atlantic City Air Show, which provides $42 million in economic impact in the region, he said. This year, it will be held in September, extending the season.
If Revel reopens this summer that would change the picture, but it is unclear whether that will happen, both Tyrrell and Busler said. “The hope is that Revel reopening would grow the market, but the reality is, it may take away from some of the other casinos,” Busler said.
Tyrrell also noted that LIGHT issued its quarterly report on Atlantic City Tourism Performance Indicators today, which found that despite the closing of casinos in the last year, much of the gaming-related business remained “captured” in the Atlantic City market.
“Per property performance for the remaining casinos in the Atlantic City market increased,” the 2014 year-end report found. Click to read the full report.
I want to take the balance of this post to address the elephant in the room. Stockton is involved an acquisition of Showboat Casino. This would immediately revitalize Atlantic City with the "Eds" part of the redevelopment. Add the appeal of staying near the beach to a college student versus inland. The chance to do an internship that is catered to the theoretical perspective and real world application. There should be a way to accommodate education in a gaming environment. UNLV is embraced by Las Vegas. Atlantic City could open up some of the restrictions that presently stifled development and diversity. The old model does not work anymore.
Here are some of the latest events planned for the shore. They include Summer Festivals and New Places to Eat at the Beach. I want to thank Dr. Posner for inviting me to this event. Stockton is known for providing the metrics of projecting trends that are relevant to Atlantic City and New Jersey. Expect more innovation from the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City from Borgata Casino on May 27-28.
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