Officials are hoping that a change in the operator of Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall could lead to a more extensive lineup of sporting events and introduce the city to new patrons.
Last year, the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority voted for venue management firm Global Spectrum to take over operations of the hall. The award is currently tied up in a legal battle with current operator SMG, but officials say the management change might attract more professional preseason hockey and basketball games from the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers, based on the new operator’s relationships.
Global Spectrum is a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center and the Philadelphia Flyers.
“The idea is to get more family shows, more concerts, more sporting events. Really, the only difference you’re going to see is more in the way of what they bring to the table, their assets,” ACCVA President Jeff Vasser said. “It’s not to say SMG wasn’t doing a good job, but we’re the top-grossing, mid-sized arena in the world.”
The management change, coupled with new machinery set to be installed at the historic venue later this year, should result in the hall booking more acts and a greater variety of shows.
Constructed in 1929, and later renovated from a convention center to an arena, Boardwalk Hall relies on a metal grid suspended from the ceiling to hold lighting and sound equipment. That setup, however, isn’t sufficient for shows with more elaborate staging.
As a result, crews currently have to climb into the ceiling to secure cables suspending the equipment, a time-intensive and costly process for the hall, which has struggled to control labor costs. A new, larger, $3 million grid is expected to be installed by May, making it cheaper and easier to host shows at the venue. That fact could bring back lower-cost shows that have passed up Atlantic City in the past, Vasser said.
The new grid will also be installed before the Miss America Pageant returns to Atlantic City in September, which officials said is expected to help with production costs.
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