Just who will manage Boardwalk Hall in the future remains in limbo after the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority voted Monday to rescind the current bid for proposals.
The vote, prompted by recommendations of a hearing officer assigned to settle a dispute over the contract, sets the authority back months in its award process. Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor, was selected last year to operate the historic arena, but Monday’s decision means that Global Spectrum — which was expected to deliver a more extensive lineup of preseason sporting events — must submit a new proposal if it’s still interested in winning the contract.
“At this point, we’re already three months behind, so from that point of view we are frustrated,” ACCVA President Jeffrey Vasser said.
SMG, the hall’s longtime management firm, had disputed the award process for months, questioning why members of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the Atlantic City Alliance were part of the committee selecting the new operator despite having no official role in ACCVA operations. SMG has also alleged that there were conflicts of interest in the process, and has sued the authority over Open Public Records Act requests that it believes were not handled properly.
Last year, SMG requested a public hearing, the process ACCVA uses to handle award disputes. Based on details of a March 19 letter from George McElroy, a selected hearing officer, the ACCVA voted unanimously to drop the current bid.
The letter stated that both proposals were deficient and “contain material bidder errors that prevent an award to either bidder.” Global Spectrum was missing a signature on some forms, while SMG did not adequately disclose information, according to the letter.
Those flaws were enough to restart the bid process without ever addressing any of SMG’s concerns, including the selection committee’s makeup. Vasser said he remains “100 percent confident” that the selection committee was fair and valid. Whether exactly the same makeup of a selection committee would be used in the upcoming process isn’t yet clear, but Vasser said a group with a similar makeup would be used.
It is not yet known when the request for proposals will be issued. The ACCVA’s purchasing department will have to update the current documents.
SMG previously filed a lawsuit against ACCVA alleging that the authority did not property respond to an Open Public Records Act request for documents related to the award. John Samerjan, a public relations consultant to SMG, said Monday’s decision rendered that lawsuit moot.
SMG’s contract was extended until the end of March and will continue on a month-by-month basis, Vasser said.
The announcement in December of the award going to the subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum resulted in a 10-page letter of dispute from SMG, stating the process was flawed and a premature announcement had been made of the contract award.
SMG also alleged that there were conflicts of interest with the award, because an ACCVA board member had held a position with Comcast-Spectacor in the past.
“SMG has been an integral part of the event and tourism in Atlantic City and is excited at the prospect of continuing to do so,” Samerjan said.
Staff writer Jennifer Bogdan contributed to this report.
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