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Thread: Atlantic City Seeks New Image: Las Vegas's

  1. #1

    Default Atlantic City Seeks New Image: Las Vegas's

    May 9, 2004

    Atlantic City Seeks New Image: Las Vegas's

    By IVER PETERSON

    ATLANTIC CITY, May 6 - Atlantic City turns 150 this summer, and it's busy working up its next act.

    It sold cool ocean breezes by day and bawdy entertainment at night back when cities on the East Coast had tight morals and no air-conditioning.

    Then it sold gambling, when the only other legal gambling was some 2,000 miles away in Nevada.

    And now, with gambling almost everywhere, and more on the way, the Atlantic City casinos and the New Jersey state government are spending close to $1 billion to remake the city into a glossy shopping, entertainment and - yes - gambling attraction, with Las Vegas as its model.

    "We are going to make ourselves into the Queen City of the Atlantic again," said Curtis J. Bashaw, executive director of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which collects a 1.25 percent tax on casino revenue and puts it back into economic development projects in the city and elsewhere in the state.

    The urgency is clear in the city's books: except for the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, which opened in July, the city's casino revenue is barely growing, as more and more gambling outlets open in a tightening ring around the shore. Delaware and West Virginia now have casinos; the two giant Indian casinos in Connecticut are attracting New Yorkers, and more may be on the way; Pennsylvania wants to install slot machines at horse tracks, including in Philadelphia, which is practically in Atlantic City's backyard. And Gov. George E. Pataki wants to open three half-billion-dollar Indian resort casinos in the Catskills, 30 miles closer to the heart of Manhattan than Atlantic City, which is 130 miles away.

    According to an analysis by Harrah's 2003 Profile of the American Casino Gambler, more of the metropolitan Washington's 700,000 casino gamblers go to Delaware or West Virginia - places that did not have legal gambling 10 years ago - than come here. Baltimore and Philadelphia are sending a growing share of its gamblers someplace else. And even though the New York metropolitan region's 5 million regular gamblers still favor Atlantic City, 13 percent go to Connecticut, and more will head to the Catskills when the opportunity comes.

    There is also a sense here, although no one says it out loud, that this town is not attracting enough of the right kind of people, which is to say people with time and money - the kind who fly to Las Vegas for a week of gambling, dining and shopping.

    In fact, Atlantic City's businesses have complained about "shoobies," a derogatory reference to day trippers that dates back to an era when they carried their lunches in shoe boxes. The sense here is that the city has to keep people here for longer stays.

    "We will wean ourselves from being the image of a day-trip destination to being a hot spot again," Mr. Bashaw said.

    Although Atlantic City's 12 casinos take in about the same $4.5 billion a year in gambling that the 22 big hotels along the Vegas Strip do, they make only $300 million on nongambling attractions like shopping, dining and personal care spas. "And I think even that $300 million is exaggerated," said Dennis C. Gomes, head of the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City and president for resort operations at the Aztar Corporation, which owns the Tropicana here and the Tropicana in Las Vegas.

    The Las Vegas hotels make much more on nongambling operations, $9.5 billion last year, according to Frank Streshley of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, although that figure includes revenue from a 23rd casino.

    No wonder, then, that the buzzword around here is "nongaming revenue." The Sands announced on Thursday that it had started planning for a hotel expansion, with more shopping and entertainment space. Caesars and Gordon Group Holdings are spending $150 million to gut the old Ocean One pier, which was, until recently, a dingy warren of cheap shops and restaurants across the Boardwalk from Caesars. They plan to put in a high-end shopping and dining attraction, with Gucci already signed as a tenant, and Polo and Tiffany among the others in lease negotiations, Mr. Bashaw said.

    Sheldon Gordon, chairman of Gordon Group Holdings, bet his fortune to build the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The Roman-themed arcade has been wildly successful. The project in Atlantic City will be the Pier at Caesars, and its motto, "If you liked the desert, you'll love the ocean."

    At the same time, Harrah's Atlantic City recently announced a new hotel and shopping tower project; Resorts Atlantic City is scheduled to open its new $125 million, 27-story hotel tower later this summer and is in discussions over more expansion; and Mr. Gomes's Tropicana will open its new shopping, dining and spa addition, designed to recall pre-Castro Havana and called The Quarter, this fall.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #2

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    July 30, 2004

    Encouraged by Earnings, Owners Plan to Expand Borgata

    By RONALD SMOTHERS

    The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa's gamble that there was an appetite in Atlantic City for something beyond games of chance has apparently paid off. The operators of the Borgata have announced a $200 million expansion of their Renaissance Pointe location that will add not only slots and table games, but also spa, restaurant, nightclub and high-end retail space.

    The announcement was part of a second-quarter earnings report released Wednesday by the Boyd Gaming Group, a Las Vegas-based casino operator, which along with MGM-Mirage owns the $1.1 billion Borgata.

    Company officials had seen the casino - with 2,002 hotel rooms as well as spas and upscale shops - as a destination resort of a type more common in Las Vegas. They had brashly predicted that it would prove so effective in attracting visitors to Atlantic City and drawing from other casinos that expansion was inevitable.

    While the Borgata has been thriving, the dozen other casinos in the city have barely stayed even with 2002 figures for house winnings and player losses.

    "Borgata has now operated for four quarters, and every quarter since its opening has been better than the quarter before," said William S. Boyd, chairman and chief executive officer of Boyd Gaming. "When we developed Borgata we knew were building the right product for Atlantic City and the Northeast gaming market, but it is exceeding our expectations both in how fast its revenues and earnings are ramping up and in how quickly we need to expand the property." Because the Borgata is a joint venture, there is no clear indication of how its success affected the company's quarterly reports.

    Officials of the state's Casino Control Commission agreed that the Borgata's performance had shaken things up in Atlantic City, where no new casino had opened in 13 years. At least four other casinos have recently announced plans for new hotel rooms, retail areas and other nongambling operations, said Linda Kassekert, commission chairwoman.

    "I think we are beginning to feel more like Las Vegas," Ms. Kassekert said.

    Robert Boughner, the Borgata's chief executive, said the expansion would include a three-story addition with space for 600 new slot machines, bringing the casino's total to 4,100; 36 additional gambling tables; and 56 new poker tables. Off-track betting counter slots would be doubled to 90.

    The plans call for two more restaurants, bringing the total to seven; one casual dining spot, bringing the total to eight; and a large food court. Two nightclubs would be housed in the addition, along with a half-dozen retail shops. Mr. Boughner said space would be added to a spa operation that has had eight-week waiting lists for weekend appointments for its $150 facials.

    Construction is to begin in December, and completion is projected for 2006.

    Mr. Boughner said that although hotel occupancy was in "the mid-90 percent range," the company had no plans to add more rooms. That would have to wait, he said, until "we are absolutely certain that the tax climate in Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey as a whole would warrant our expansion."

    Casino Control Commission officials noted that Atlantic City is updating the calculation of casino property values for property tax purposes and that the Legislature has passed a bill repealing a state tax on free hotel and nongambling services casinos offered to high rollers, although Gov. James E. McGreevey has not yet signed it. Ms. Kassekert said she expected the governor to allow the bill repealing the tax to become law.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  3. #3

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    Attracting people w. time & money is right. I visited Atlantic City once back in the early 90's and was NOT impressed. It was a cold, grey, uninviting experience...

    From my personal observations (having worked in LV for weeks at a time in the late 90's early 2000's) these were the attractions to LV, from both a young technology company professionals point of view, and watching my parents weeklong soiree/meeting just a few months ago...

    For the young professional who does not gamble (well, black jack 'n the slots.. maybe 1 or 2 games at the sportsbetting area, thats about it):

    1. Large conventions, Comdex (yes, cancelled, but it will be back, and better than ever!), CES, E3, Networld+Interop, etc.
    2. Top end gentlemens clubs such as Olympic Gardens, more affectionately referred to as "the OG".
    3. Grandiose vista view skyline of top class hotels & legendary show attractions from top name entertainment (tough to beat shows from Cirque du Soleil such as the O @ the Bellagio & Zumanity @ the New York, New York for the young, and top performers such as Celine Dion for the older crowd)
    4. Geek factor impressives, such as Star Trek: The Experience, and now Borg 4D @ the Las Vegas Hilton.. I see ST:TE every time I goto LV, and have turned peeps on to it.. It's got a buzz so to speak.
    5. "See it no where else" themes such as the Gondola ride @ the Venetian, the animatronics display @ Caesars Palace (Posiedon and his children), the pirate ship battle scene @ Treasure Island, the booming water show @ the Bellagio.. these are all legendary attractions... You don't see any press about anything Atlantic City has to offer in visual/visceral competition.
    6. Top end shopping experiences, Amani Xchange comes to mind.
    7. Known, "hot times for the young 'n the young at heart" hotel venues such as the Palms, and the Rio. Clubs such as the Drink, or Rain.
    8. Legendary buffets, such as the seafood buffet at the Rio, and the everything under the sun w. top end choices buffet of the Bellagio..
    9. Heck, they even have an incredible roller coaster just 45 mins away in Primm!
    10. Incredible hotels, such as the Luxor's black pyramid, the green glow of the MGM Grande, the exciting rides atop the Stratosphere...

    I could go on and on... Atlantic City really needs to "step up" on the national/international scale, if it wants to fend off all the indian gaming going on nipping at its heels. They have to stand out as an attraction in of itself, a place worth spending time & money in, a place worth making an effort to going to... beyond gaming, or they will always be a second hand/second best to Las Vegas. Atlantic City needs that WOWZA factor. Personally, when I think of Atlantic City, I think of that movie by the same name, and then I think of the phrase "mob ties".. as in NOT SAFE. Las Vegas has been able to shake that negative connotation, by sheer force of will, vast investments by the casinos... and of course, an excellently executed marketing plan... primetime television show tie-ins, prime-time sports tie ins w. the world series of poker, etc... strong marketing messages tied in w. the old saying by lifelong road warriors.. "what goes on on the road, stays on the road"... ;-)

    Peace.

  4. #4

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    January 3, 2005

    Seeking a New Look, Atlantic City Turns to Its History

    By IVER PETERSON

    ATLANTIC CITY, Dec. 29 - Atlantic City has finally found something about Las Vegas that it doesn't want to copy: the way it looks.

    When Las Vegas casino operators decided that their business should be more family-friendly, Atlantic City leaders started talking about roller rinks and other family attractions. When Las Vegas started making more money from dining, shopping and entertainment than from gambling, Atlantic City began pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the same ventures.

    But as Las Vegas begins yet another round of glitter-and-kitsch construction along the Vegas Strip, the Atlantic City casinos have signed on to a retro approach: starting with the famous Boardwalk, revive a little of the Atlantic City of old, before all the casinos arrived.

    "Whenever I visit the head of one of the casinos, their walls are covered with black and white pictures of Atlantic City in its heyday," said Curtis Bashaw, head of the state's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. "It's like this place is haunted by the images of this city in its glory days."

    Now his agency, which invests money raised by a casino tax into economic development projects in the city, is using the lure of low-interest financing to encourage casinos to embrace new design standards along the Boardwalk that evoke the look and scale of the city's original tourist hotels.

    Under the new rules, if the operators of the nine casinos fronting the Boardwalk want to use the agency's money to renovate their properties, they will have to meet those standards. Showboat has already agreed to change the design for its new $70 million House of Blues nightclub, scheduled to open on the Boardwalk in July.

    With Delaware drawing customers away with its racetrack and gambling parlors, Pennsylvania rushing to create dozens of slot parlors and New York State moving to build casinos closer to Manhattan, Atlantic City is looking for a way to give gamblers something different.

    "With all the encroachment of gaming in the region, the operators are much more aware that Atlantic City has to be more than a bunch of slots parlors on the beach," said Mr. Bashaw, who is also a Cape May hotel operator. "They are much more aware of Atlantic City as a brand."

    The old photographs that the casino operators cherish offer a study in contrasts. Immense buildings white as snow jut up from the Boardwalk today, most of them presenting sheer, blank walls to passers-by. But the old Boardwalk was lined with brick and stone hotels that had tiled arcades, windows that gave a view in and out, bits of green grass and, as the new standards put it, "active facades" - stores, entrances, windows and semipublic areas.

    "By comparison," the development authority's analysis concluded, "most existing casino hotels have few entry points and many linear feet of inaccessible interior."

    Several casinos, indeed, have one of the city's most puzzling architectural features - nooks designed to look like doors, with glass walls and awnings, that are not doors. Judging by the scene on Pacific Avenue, the first street back from the Boardwalk, many newcomers spend their first moments in town looking for entrances to the casinos.

    The Boardwalk casinos look the way they do because they were built by Las Vegas casino operators, said Michael Calafati, a partner with Historic Building Architects, of Trenton, who created a design inventory of the Boardwalk and drew up the new guidelines.

    "They took a model that worked very well in the desert of the Southwest and plopped down these big boxes on the Boardwalk," Mr. Calafati said. "Financially they were a success, but the image is really anemic compared to Atlantic City's heyday."

    The loss of many of the old hotels and their friendly scale also occurred, Mr. Bashaw said, because of the shock New Jersey leaders felt when the national news media came to Atlantic City for the 1964 Democratic nominating convention, and reported to the nation that "America's Playground," as the city had styled itself, had become a slum.

    "The feeling was, just tear it down," Mr. Bashaw said.

    The new design rules are not intended to create a museum, only a more historically accurate cityscape along the Boardwalk, and one that is more inviting to strollers. "Back to a sense of the city that celebrated people-watching, and general pedestrian activities," Mr. Calafati said.

    The first tangible step back to the Boardwalk design of old Atlantic City was taken when the Showboat agreed to meet the new standards by changing the design for the marquee and the entrance to the House of Blues.

    "Our first design was very Las Vegas-like," said Dave Jonas, senior vice president for Atlantic City operations for Harrah's, which also runs the Showboat. "It was very modern, with very sharp angles and lots of stucco; it was kind of cold. Curtis asked us to make some changes, and we came up with a design that was more modern, with softer corners and natural stone. And instead of a wall, we're putting in windows, so we get light coming into the casino, and we make the entrance more inviting."

    Farther "down beach" from the Showboat, Bernard E. DeLury Jr., executive vice president of Caesars Entertainment, is thinking about ways to apply the design guidelines for repair work on the Claridge hotel, a survivor from the city's golden age and part of Caesars' three Boardwalk properties.

    "Instead of doing a slab dab paint job on the Claridge, we're thinking, lets move with a view toward preservation, of looking up there and seeing what's there - taking off encrustations that were added, but getting the same functionality - something that's closer to original design," he said.

    Mr. DeLury says he also wishes he could open up the adjacent Dennis Hotel, another survivor, to the Boardwalk. But its inviting courtyard is blocked by an undistinguished two-story food and retail space whose owner is content to remain there.

    It exemplifies one of the problems Mr. Bashaw faces in remaking the Boardwalk. However willing the casinos may be to put a new, old stamp on the Boardwalk, much of the frontage along it is taken up by a one- and two-story mishmash of three-for-$10 T-shirt joints, palmists, pizza-by-the-slice houses, fudge shops and other businesses that happen to be huge money makers.

    With so much money already coming in, their owners appear content to stand pat, but Mr. Bashaw said he was patient.

    "We're not saying this is compulsory," he said. "But if you want to use our money, you're going to have to do it the right way."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  5. #5
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    Ch65 Time Warner (Nat'l Geographic) had a Megastructures episode on about the Borgata casino in AC. I found it interesting that Wynn was sold the property for $1.

  6. #6
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Default More!!

    Atlantic City casino to add 800-room 'Water Club' tower in 2007

    2/21/2006, 7:46 p.m. ET
    By JOHN CURRAN
    The Associated Press

    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is spreading the wealth.

    The $1 billion casino, a huge hit with gamblers since its 2003 debut, will add an 800-room hotel tower next year in the second phase of an expansion project, the company announced Tuesday.

    The $325 million addition, named The Water Club at Borgata, will also feature four pools, a two-story "spa in the sky," six retail shops and 18,000 square feet of meeting space in the glass hotel tower. Of the 800 guest rooms, 750 will be "classic," and there will be 20 suites and 15 two-bedroom suites, four of which will be corner suites with "media-rich mini theaters," the company said.

    The 43-story building, which will look similar to Borgata's existing tower, will help the casino keep pace with runaway demand for its rooms, which have occupancy of 97 percent even in the market's traditionally slow winter months, said Larry Mullin, president and chief operating officer.

    "It will be a more upscale experience than what we have now," said Mullin.

    Like the Borgata, the expansion is a joint venture of Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage. The new tower is expected to open in late 2007.

    "We conceived The Water Club as an exclusive extension to the sophisticated, international style that already defines Borgata," said Bob Boughner, the former Borgata CEO who oversaw design of the expansion. "Quietly cosmopolitan yet energized, The Water Club will be defined by clean, contemporary architecture."

    Borgata, which opened in July 2003 as the first new casino in Atlantic City in 13 years, has been anything but quiet.

    The 2,010-room casino has dramatically affected the Atlantic City market, drawing younger gamblers to town and luring older ones away from its competitors.

    It has been the city's highest-grossing casino in all but one month since its opening, and its emphasis on table games, coinless slot machines and expensive name-brand restaurants has helped it dominate the market since the day it opened its doors.

    The casino is already at work on the first phase of its expansion, which includes $200 million worth of new casino space, new restaurants and a poker room. Opening for that is scheduled for spring.

  7. #7
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Cool AC welcomes Jay-Z

    My apologies on this being way late but thought worth noting:

    Jay-Z Opens 40/40 Club in Atlantic City
    Wednesday, October 26, 2005
    By: Michael Ivey

    Tuesday night marked the grand opening of Jay-Z’s second 40/40 spot, this one in Atlantic City. The club is located in front of Caesars Resorts, on the corner of Missouri and Atlantic Avenues. During a tour of the $3.5 million, 15,000 sq. ft. sports bar Jay admitted it was even more imposing than he expected.

    The 40/40 Club is equipped with many television screens showing sports events, a theme important to it’s naming according to Jay. “It [40/40] is actually the most exclusive sports club in baseball cause it combines power and speed. There is only three members, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, and Jose Canseco.” An ESPN Hall of Fame room for about 100 guests, and an A-Rod room, which holds 50 people, can be rented for $3,000 and $1,500 a night respectively. A-Rod and P. Diddy were among those at the grand opening Tuesday night. Jay actually declined on establishing a 40/40 club in LA because he feels AC will “be pretty comparable to Vegas” due to new developments.

    Jay-Z is also very is fond of New Jersey: “it’s like an extended home for me…I stayed in Trenton for a while. And Philly’s like my second home.” Jay says he wants an atmosphere that’s “relaxed and you know cool, people saying what’s up to each other, having fun with each other.” By the way, no jerseys or sneakers allowed in the 40/40 club.

  8. #8
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Atlantic City thread gets less than 10 posts in almost 2 years!

    Shows that AC doesn't hold much mystery or intrigue ...

  9. #9

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    ^ Place is a mess.

  10. #10
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Surrounded by a giant ghetto.

  11. #11

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    You'd think all the sleaze squeezed out of Times Square would have relocated here, maybe just off the Boardwalk. Is it zoned out?

  12. #12
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    I think personally this is the beginning of it's finest hour.

  13. #13

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    Atlantic City casino to add 800-room 'Water Club' tower in 2007


    By JOHN CURRAN
    The Associated Press
    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is spreading the wealth.
    The $1 billion casino, a huge hit with gamblers since its 2003 debut, will add an 800-room hotel tower next year in the second phase of an expansion project, the company announced Tuesday.
    The $325 million addition, named The Water Club at Borgata, will also feature four pools, a two-story "spa in the sky," six retail shops and 18,000 square feet of meeting space in the glass hotel tower. Of the 800 guest rooms, 750 will be "classic," and there will be 20 suites and 15 two-bedroom suites, four of which will be corner suites with "media-rich mini theaters," the company said.
    The 43-story building, which will look similar to Borgata's existing tower, will help the casino keep pace with runaway demand for its rooms, which have occupancy of 97 percent even in the market's traditionally slow winter months, said Larry Mullin, president and chief operating officer.
    "It will be a more upscale experience than what we have now," said Mullin.
    Like the Borgata, the expansion is a joint venture of Boyd Gaming Corp. and MGM Mirage. The new tower is expected to open in late 2007.
    We conceived The Water Club as an exclusive extension to the sophisticated, international style that already defines Borgata," said Bob Boughner, the former Borgata CEO who oversaw design of the expansion. "Quietly cosmopolitan yet energized, The Water Club will be defined by clean, contemporary architecture."
    Borgata, which opened in July 2003 as the first new casino in Atlantic City in 13 years, has been anything but quiet. The 2,010-room casino has dramatically affected the Atlantic City market, drawing younger gamblers to town and luring older ones away from its competitors.
    It has been the city's highest-grossing casino in all but one month since its opening, and its emphasis on table games, coinless slot machines and expensive name-brand restaurants has helped it dominate the market since the day it opened its doors.
    The casino is already at work on the first phase of its expansion, which includes $200 million worth of new casino space, new restaurants and a poker room. Opening for that is scheduled for spring.

  14. #14
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Hmmm, all this sounds great. I've never been to AC, but if they keep it up I might have to pay a visit.

  15. #15
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Seems by your reaction that the new offical New Jersey State Slogan is working:

    January 12, 2006

    http://www.state.nj.us/slogan/

    The new slogan for New Jersey has been chosen by the people of the state. Over 11,000 people voted by phone and on the internet. The final tally was close, but we have a clear winner.

    The winning slogan is:

    "New Jersey, Come See For Yourself"

    and was first submitted to us by Jeffrey Antman of Passaic, New Jersey.

    Thank you to all who contributed ideas and took the time to vote - I am proud to be the Governor of a State whose residents came forward with thousands of ways to tell the world that New Jersey is a wonderful place to live, work and play.

    With regards,

    Acting Governor

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