NORTHFIELD – Senator Jim Whelan, responding to a Republican press conference held yesterday, blasted Assemblyman Vince Polistina for statements that harm efforts to market Atlantic City. Whelan stated:
“I understand that this is the political season and there will be some grandstanding. What I object to is that when we should be fighting for all the business we can get, Assemblyman Polistina is making false insinuations that could have a chilling effect on businesses deciding to bring their trade shows and conventions to Atlantic City.
“Assemblyman Polistina claims that money spent by the Atlantic City Convention Center and Visitors Authority on marketing Atlantic City is appalling. What is appalling is the Assemblyman’s lack of knowledge of how the ACCVA and other convention bureaus attract clients and even more appalling is his unwillingness to find out, given how important this Authority is to our district.
“The Republican cited several examples of what Polistina claimed was money being spent foolishly, but the fact is that these expenditures are standard practices in the convention and visitors business and more significantly, they brought a huge return for Atlantic City.
“For example, the Republicans pointed out that the ACCVA spent $21,055 to entertain at a Giants football game. If they had bothered to check with the Authority, they would have known that it led to a first time booking of the National Association of Fleet Administrators for April 2013 and retention of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association. These two shows are worth $14 million in business.
“The Republicans OPRAd the ACCVA expenses for a trip to Marco Island, Florida by Jeff Vasser, ACCVA Executive Director. That’s the meeting place for Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Conference, which yields about $3.5 million annually for Atlantic City. The Conference was threatening to leave town but due to Jeff Vasser’s diligence, they stayed. By the way, the Authority spent $827 and Jeff had toast, orange juice and coffee for breakfast.
“Polistina objected to $9,032 spent for a Jimmy Buffett familiarization event; the results: two new conventions and two retentions worth $27 million.
“It is troubling that Polistina admits that he does not know whether the money spent by the ACCVA attracted any business to the resort. All he had to do was call Executive Director Jeff Vasser to get the facts. I spent less than a half hour on the phone with Jeff Vasser yesterday to learn the abovementioned bookings and economic returns.
“Our ACCVA does an outstanding job with the limited resources they have. We should be talking about ways to give them even more money, like the $20 million the Casino Association suggested, so they can bring even more business to Atlantic City and not be worrying about $3,000 spent on souvenir mints.”