AC seafood festival

Open space is abundant for may different events at Bader field. Atlantic City,NJ, September 13, 2014.

Kristian Gonyea

Atlantic City officials convened Tuesday at Harrah’s to announce a “Play AC” sports-tourism initiative to make the town an amateur-sports hotbed.

A sports trade show at Harrah's next year called TEAMS will bring 1,400 executives, event managers, and other influencers in the amateur-sports world to town, with the aim of convincing them to hold their events at an Atlantic City property such as the $126 million Harrah’s Waterfront Conference Center set to open in August, said Timothy Schneider, who organizes the show.

Meet AC, the non-profit created to promote Atlantic City as a corporate-meetings destination, is orchestrating the effort to court business travelers into a city grappling with billions of dollars in vanished gambling revenue.

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Officials seem to be paying particular attention to the sports sector, as evidenced by plans to develop Bader Field into an indoor-outdoor multi-field sports complex.

The TEAMS conference in Atlantic City, set for September 2016, will be “attended by the decision-makers in the sports event industry, the people who decide where thousands and thousands of sporting events will be held," Schneider said. "It's not just about the 3,000 hotel room nights that our event generates, it's about the 47 million room nights at the events our attendees organize."

Another trade show for meetings planners — Meetings Quest — will be held in Atlantic City in 2017, he said.

In May Harrah’s announced that one of the most prominent events-planning conferences — Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress — will happen at Harrah’s’ 100,000 square-foot conference center in June 2016. The booking was described by Harrah’s executives as critical to germinating future business by wowing meetings industry insiders.

Caesars Entertainment, which runs Harrah’s, says it generates about $400 million annually through conferences. Like Atlantic City, the company sees the corporate meetings industry as an avenue to become less reliant on gambling revenue, which is harder to come by as the casino market in the United States grows saturated.

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