Miss America would receive close to $12 million in state money and Atlantic City would get live national exposure on New Year’s Eve under a proposed agreement among the pagaent, dick clark productions and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
The agreement, to be considered at Tuesday’s CRDA board meeting, would keep the pagaent in the city of its birth for three more years at a higher cost to the state.
To woo Miss America back to her Atlantic City roots in 2013, the Casino Reinvestment Develop…
The authority would make annual payments of $3.5 million, $3.75 million and $4 million, respectively, over the next three years to cover the pageant’s production costs, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by The Press of Atlantic City. CRDA would also pay Miss America Organization an additional $325,000 for other production expenses and $311,000 for final settlement expenses.
All told, Miss America would receive about $11.9 million in state money over the three-year period. By comparison, the recently expired three-year subsidy package totaled $7.3 million.
The Miss America Organization, the CRDA and dick clark productions all declined to comment.
Atlantic City's elected officials could be stripped of their power to make financial decisio…
In exchange, Atlantic City would get more national exposure. The pageant will again be nationally broadcast on ABC during that period, and the pageant would promote Atlantic City in press conferences, press releases, the Miss America website, promotional materials and during the telecast.
The Miss America Organization would also promote Atlantic City in the opening of the next three Miss America telecasts with in-show promotions running about eight minutes long, according to a source close to the negotiations. The opening segment would introduce each contestant in groups at four or five different locations throughout Atlantic City chosen by CRDA.
In addition, dick clark productions would promote Atlantic City during other televised events it produces: New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and the Billboard Music Awards, both of which are broadcast on ABC.
On New Year’s Eve, dick clark productions will incorporate a live remote performance in Atlantic City in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 broadcasts. Event coverage will include reference to the resort and include the name of the venue the performance is taking place. But CRDA would foot the bill for all production costs of the performance.
For the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, dick clark productions will mention Atlantic City when the reigning Miss America presents an award. The resort would be plugged at the awards show each year through 2018.
The Billboard Music Awards averaged more than 11 million viewers through the three-hour show, a 14-year high in total viewership, according to Billboard.com. Throughout ABC’s New Year’s Eve coverage, more than 59 million unique viewers tuned in. Both programs appeared on ABC, which extended a three-year contract with the Miss America Organization through 2018 in November. The Miss America contest generated 7.2 million viewers.
In the past, supporters have justified the subsidies by arguing that highlighting Atlantic City during the Miss America pageant equals millions of dollars in exposure for the resort.
Whether Miss America gives the resort the most bang for the state’s buck has been a subject of recent debate. In a December interview with The Press, Mayor Don Guardian said he’s heard CRDA board members wondering privately whether the money could be better spent, asking “‘So if I gave you (that same money), do you think you’d rather have Madonna or Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars on a beach concert?’”
Guardian could not be reached for comment Monday. Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, said Friday that Miss America wasn’t worth about $4 million a year for Atlantic City. Council President Marty Small said Monday that while there is a history between the resort and the pageant, he was surprised about the cost of the subsidy at a time when “all the stakeholders are looking to cut costs.”
The pageant and CRDA have been negotiating a new contract since July. After an eight-year stint in Las Vegas, the Miss America Competition was lured back to its Atlantic City birthplace in 2013 with promises of a $7.3 million state subsidy package that expired in 2015.
CRDA is at risk of losing millions in funds from an Atlantic City financial rescue package expected to be introduced this week. Like a plan rejected last month by Gov. Chris Christie, the bill could divert as much as $25 million in CRDA funding to help pay off municipal debt.
The Miss America Organization, which provides scholarships to contestants, has struggled financially. According to its most recent federal filings, the organization spent $882,278 more than it took in during 2013. And Atlantic City, itself financially ailing, had to pick up a $65,000 tab for security for the 2015 pageant because the organizers couldn’t pay for it, state officials said in August emails obtained by The Press of Atlantic City.
Under the proposed agreement, Boardwalk Hall would again be the venue for all Miss America-related events. However, Miss America and dick clark productions have agreed to shorten its stay by a week, from 28 days to 21. But that is contingent on CRDA being able to install a new rigging system at Boardwalk Hall, scheduled for installation this spring.
CRDA must also assist in staging the “Show Us Your Shoes Parade” and obtaining all required city permits and services. Miss America and dick clark productions would not be obligated to bear the costs of the city services, such as security. But the pagaent would be responsible for other parade costs.
CRDA’s board meeting is at 2 p.m. at 15 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in Atlantic City.
Staff Writer Sara Tracey contributed to this report