Governor Signs Whelan Measure To Transfer Ac Convention Center To Visitors Authority

Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, speaks at a news conference with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) on a bill he’s sponsored – S-1926, known as “Ricci’s Law” – which would make alcohol ignition interlock devices mandatory for all drunk driving offenses.

ATLANTIC CITY – Governor Jon S. Corzine signed legislation today sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan that transfers ownership of the Atlantic City Convention Center from the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (Sports Authority) to the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority (Visitors Authority).

“We’re streamlining the management of the Convention Center and making it more responsive to the needs of Atlantic City,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “It no longer makes sense to have the Sports Authority up in the Meadowlands owning the Convention Center in Atlantic City, especially since the Visitors’ Authority has been running it since the day it opened.”

Under the new law, formerly bill S-1393, the Visitors Authority will take ownership of the land and buildings of the Atlantic City Convention Center. The Visitors Authority will issue debt to finance the repayment of any outstanding bonds used by the Sports Authority to build the Convention Center.

“The Convention Center is an important part of the continued growth of Atlantic City as a world-class tourism and convention destination. We’re strengthening the Visitors Authority and its ability to maximize the economic potential of greater Atlantic City regional,” added Senator Whelan.

The debt issued by the Visitors Center will be financed with revenues from the 8% Atlantic City luxury tax imposed on poured alcoholic beverages, hotel rooms and entertainment cover charges. Currently, the Sports Authority collects those revenues.

Under the new law, the Visitors Authority could also issue new debt to finance new projects in Atlantic City.

“Atlantic City is a much different place than it was before the Convention Center opened. Retail has exploded in the last decade and several new resorts are being built. This measure will allow the Convention Center to make further investments as the city continues to grow,” explained Senator Whelan.

Additionally, the new law officially changes the name of the Atlantic City Convention Center Authority to the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority.