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Comment www.parkworld-online.com


Real businesses, and the real story The reality is that the gaming competition did poach a good chunk of the casino business. However, some of the perceived ‘decline’ was self-inflicted and not market-driven. First there was an incredible mega resort built that had a poor debt structure and misguided marketing. After two bankruptcies and a false start with one owner, it has reopened as the Ocean Resorts Hotel and is thriving. There were properties that were extremely popular and


profitable and closed because of a corporate shell game being played without concern for the local market. And then there was a property that was simply run into the ground by poor management and then saved by its mortgage holder, only to be crippled by an ill-fated strike that ultimately shuttered it. This summer we watched as the Hard Rock’s new $500 million hotel opened in its spot and has become a huge draw to the city. The real story was about reinventing our hospitality and


entertainment venues; giving customers what they really want and ultimately right-sizing the city that had become too bloated too quickly following the success of legalised gambling. At the Steel Pier, we are the caretakers of the Atlantic City legend in a sense, as the destination that once was the main


attraction, and a beacon for celebrities and entertainers. As such, we have always believed in additions to the gaming market: Atlantic City also has a strong family market that is alive and well. No other gaming market has what Atlantic City has: beach, boardwalk and location, which cannot be replicated. The non-gaming opportunities that have continued to swell in Atlantic City have gone largely ignored and now result in almost $3 billion annually in revenue. We watched as major retailers came in and added to the Tanger Outlet Walk; renowned restaurants and chefs opened dining establishments; nightclubs opened and top entertainers have added the City to their tour; and millions were spent on the convention and trade show business. In true Atlantic City tradition, Steel Pier gambled on the


future by building the third largest observation wheel in the country, which opened this year. Next year we have more planned. We aren’t the only ones: experts have said the gaming market may now be at the right size and fixed, but non-gaming is potentially limitless. Atlantic City has learned its lesson: to right size its hotel/casino offerings and to continue to adjust itself to customers’ expectations. It continues to reinvent itself and all bets are off when it comes to what it can do - especially in the non-gaming sphere.


In the early days of the rise of Atlantic City, developers viewed the city as a prime piece of real estate. Wealthy visitors wanted to travel there to see the ocean views, but didn’t like stepping out of their luxury hotel lobbies onto the sand. In the mid-nineteeth century, railroad conductor Alex Boardman and hotelier Jacob Keim came up with the idea for a wooden foot walk that would lead from the beach to the town. The first boardwalk was dedicated in 1870 and became a luxury runway for visitors, eventually evolving to the busy entertainment hub it is today.


NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018


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