Should state agencies help pay for events in Atlantic City?

March 25, 2024

Bringing events to the resort has become a costly exercise over the past decade, and state agencies are helping to pay those increased costs more often.

In recent years, the state has pitched in millions of dollars to bring events like the Miss America Competition, beach concerts, the Atlantic City Airshow and UFC fights to the resort.

This week alone, the South Jersey Transportation Authority contributed $300,000 to the Visit Atlantic City Airshow, which is run by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber. If the funding had not come, the event would have been canceled, officials said. Meanwhile, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority sent $500,000 in COVID-19 relief funds to Ultimate Fighting Championship to help cover a March 30 show at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall.

Subsidies for events have become unavoidable in today’s economy, said Marc H. Pfeiffer, senior policy fellow and faculty researcher at the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers University.

“You have so much competition between cities and states and the number of choices that consumers have to spend their money,” Pfeiffer said about the reason that agencies give subsidies for events. “There is a balance that has to be struck, and that is the hard part.”

More than $70 million in economic activity is generated from the two-day airshow, officials have said.

One of the issues with these subsidies is the lack of accountability, Pfeiffer said. A 2019 report stated that CRDA failed to monitor the actual cost and economic impact of the Miss America Competition when it negotiated the second contract with the organization in 2016, according to an audit of the agency.

“Agencies have to be very smart and do their due diligence and see what type of cost are being incurred by the promoter,” Pfeiffer said.

The Press of Atlantic City, March 25 , 2023

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