- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Atlantic City is keeping its eye on the ball as it tries to attract more sporting events and related conventions.

The resort on Tuesday formed the Atlantic City Sports Commission, whose mission will be to attract sporting events of all sizes to the seaside resort.

It is part of Meet AC, a group promoting Atlantic City as a meeting and convention destination, one of the resort’s primary needs to fill rooms at its casino hotels on less-occupied weekdays.

“Sports is big business, and through the formation of the Atlantic City Sports Commission we are positioning Atlantic City to attract additional sporting events to our city year-round,” said Jim Wood, Meet AC’s CEO.

He said that according to the most recent economic impact study conducted by the National Association of Sports Commissions, amateur sporting events in the U.S. generate nearly $8 billion a year.

Atlantic City already hosts events like high school state wrestling finals, a marathon and various events at Boardwalk Hall. It formerly hosted an independent minor league baseball team, which stopped playing in 2009.

The city and state are trying to increase Atlantic City’s nongambling attractions to make it less reliant on gambling revenue, which has declined in each of the last eight years. Four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos closed last year.

Meet AC is primarily funded by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and has an annual budget of $8.1 million.

John Palmieri, the authority’s executive director, said the sports commission’s work will complement that of a private company that operates Boardwalk Hall to attract sporting events. The arena has held events including minor league hockey games, rodeos and indoor auto racing.

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Wayne Parry can be reached at https://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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