ATLANTIC CITY — Beach rugby matches, national horseshoe tournaments, USRowing.
A first-time TEAMS ’16 convention in Atlantic City is expected to draw more than 400 people who organize diverse sporting events that can bring more visitors to the city, said Jim Wood of Meet AC, the local convention and visitors bureau.
That can be a lucrative market. The organizers of the TEAMS gathering say the sports-related travel market accounts for about 97 million hotel room-nights a year in the U.S.
“We’re trying to grow the sports market in Atlantic City,” Wood said. “And I think this will help us showcase the city very well.”
TEAMS organizers, who are based in Los Angeles, said their attendance is up this year among the owners and directors of events mainly because this is their first East Coast convention in four years. They expect a total of 1,200 to 1,400 people to fill 5,000 or so room-nights in the city.
“We’re going to showcase Boardwalk Hall,” Wood said. “We’re going to show them the Atlantic City Convention Center. We’re going to continue to showcase Bader Field until it gets repurposed, and we’re going to showcase the beach and Boardwalk for running events.”
Looking at the list of event directors expected for the convention, he found “archery groups, the powerboat nationals. USRowing ... the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. Beach rugby ... USA Judo,” and the list kept going.
“There are so many different sports groups we want to attract, and we hope we can be their destination of choice within the next few years,” he said.
Stephen DelMonte is scheduled to speak at TEAMS ’16 about “growing a business in the sports world from nothing to something.”
His DelMo Sports organizes the annual Atlantic City Triathlon, the Escape the Cape Triathlon and the latest addition to his lineup, the Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City. That race Sept. 17 sold out all 3,000 spots for a half-Ironman race in and around the city.
And while DelMonte isn’t on the TEAMS schedule to talk about Atlantic City this week, he’s happy to talk about what the city offers to an event organizer.
“There’s no other city like it in the U.S. We have the beach, the Boardwalk, world-class dining, 20,000 hotel rooms and we’re a tank of gas from 80 million people. ... That’s not an opinion, those are facts,” he said.
He also talks up the cooperation and support his events have gotten from the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, Meet AC’s parent agency.
“I think this convention is the official coming-out party for sports tourism in Atlantic City,” DelMonte said.
Tim Schneider heads Schneider Publishing, the company that organizes TEAMS. He came to the city in early 2015, after Wood and other local officials announced a new Atlantic City Sports Commission to try to attract more athletic tourism.
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Schneider took a “hard-hat tour” of Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center as it was being built and thought it was perfect for his convention, where he said attendance could grow to as many as 1,400. His turnout is up about 10 percent over last year among sports-event organizers, mostly because of that location for events in the Northeast, he said.
He’s bringing another, smaller group of “corporate and association meeting planners” back to the city next year.
That Meetings Quest convention is scheduled for March at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which had the right-sized facilities for that group, he said.
“It was surprising to us to hear from people who have not been to Atlantic City in the last 10 years, or who have never been to Atlantic City,” he said. “We’re excited to expose those people to a destination that is going to be a discovery for them.”
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