Happy Birthday to The Atlantic City Convention Center. You look as good today as you did a quarter of a century ago.

The Atlantic City Convention Center officially opened on Thursday, May 1, 1997.

It opened with great excitement and high expectations about what the future would hold in store for Atlantic City as a major destination resort.

One day after its opening, on May 2, 1997, former New Jersey State Senator Steve Perskie quoted Sir Winston Churchill when he penned an Opinion Editorial about the brand new convention center saying:

This is not the end, or even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

The Atlantic City Convention Center was a dynamic and ambitious project that was 20 years in the making and was the vision of former New Jersey Senator William L. Gormley.

Gormley was a human force of nature who successfully engineered and navigated the complicated labyrinth of both politics and finance both skill sets were required in order to bring to fruition the brand new construction of a state-of-the-art facility, featuring 500,000 square feet of contiguous space for meetings and conventions.

The financing was made possible when former Governor Jim Florio and Gormley worked effectively in a bi-partisan manner to merge the convention center financing with a New Jersey sports authority bailout measure of that era.

This fueled the dream for an Atlantic City Convention Center, by giving it the final push that was needed to gain the widespread legislative support that was required to make it happen.

Make no mistake about it, this facility, coupled with the multi-billion dollar Atlantic City Casino Industry, put Atlantic City on the map.

It enabled Atlantic City to be able to compete with all of the major jurisdictions around the country to attract elite meetings and convention business.

The price tag for The Atlantic City Convention Center was $268 million. You couldn’t build it today for less than $800 million to $1 billion.

It actually would be cost-prohibitive today, making it an even more impressive once in forever accomplishment.

Gormley achieved the financing in a manner, whereby not a single taxpayer dollar was spent to build the convention center.

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Compare that to the baseball stadium and every other major project in Atlantic City that always hit the local taxpayers hard in their personal wallets.

Many have never had the opportunity to see the fabulous meeting and exhibit space. Below is a quick tour of some of the facilities at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

This is a look at the Keynote Session: Table set-up.

Atlantic City Convention Center - Keynote Session: Table Set-up - MEETAC.com photo.
Atlantic City Convention Center - Keynote Session: Table Set-up - MEETAC.com photo.
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This is the Keynote Session: Stage set-up:

Atlantic City Convention Center - Stage set-up - MEETAC.com photo.
Atlantic City Convention Center - Stage set-up - MEETAC.com photo.
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Here’s a look at the very flexible exhibit hall space:

Atlantic City Convention Center - Exhibit Hall - MEETAC.com photo.
Atlantic City Convention Center - Exhibit Hall - MEETAC.com photo.
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Here’s a glimpse at one of the state-of-the-art meeting rooms:

Atlantic City Convention Center - Meeting Room - MEETAC.com photo
Atlantic City Convention Center - Meeting Room - MEETAC.com photo
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The Atlantic City Convention Center provides world-class space for:

  • Meetings
  • Trade Shows
  • Conferences
  • Expos
  • Special Events
  • Sporting Events

Somewhere between 20 to 34 million visitors come to Atlantic City each and every year for the past 30-plus years.

By direct comparison, that compares to 16-18 million people who visit the so-called “Happiest Place on Earth,” Disney World’s The Magic Kingdom.

Before the advent of the Atlantic City Convention Center, The corridor was in a state of disrepair. The convention center was the jump-start to help fix Atlantic City from the foot of the Atlantic City Expressway all the way to the World Famous Boardwalk in Atlantic City.

The implementation of a world-class convention center was also the impetus behind generating the revenue required for Atlantic City to be able to properly market itself throughout the country.

It was achieved through the implementation of a $1 to $2 room tax that created the dedicated funding source.

We reach out to Larry Sieg, President and Chief Executive Officer for MEETAC, the sales, and marketing force that supports the Atlantic City Convention Center and the Atlantic City destination resort.

“As we continue to learn how to live with COVID-19, we’re seeing more event planners begin to host their meetings and conventions in-person in our destination,” said Sieg.
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“As we move into the high seasons of spring and summer, we’re expecting to see these events increase in frequency and size. This spring, we’re expecting to see a total of 23,600 room nights generating $27 million dollars in economic impact for the destination,” said Sieg.

In conclusion, you can’t overstate how important the Atlantic City Convention Center is regarding the overall success of Atlantic City, as a world-class, destination resort.

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