The search for the next operator of Boardwalk Hall and the Atlantic City Convention Center has begun - again.

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority has issued a request for proposals for what is described as a "management partner" who will help to grow the city's convention, meeting and event business. The new request follows a somewhat tumultuous award process last year that left a state authority facing litigation and eventually led to a decision to rescind the request.

The Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority selected Global Spectrum as the new operator for the venues last year. That decision left long-time operator SMG contesting the award process on the grounds that there were conflicts of interest involved and a selection committee included members who should not have been privy to the process.

A hearing officer eventually ruled that both SMG and Global Spectrum - the only two respondents - had material errors in their proposals. The ACCVA, which has now been absorbed as a division of CRDA, withdrew the request, and the process was set back by months.

Meanwhile, SMG's contract to operate the venues will be extended temporarily until another selection process is complete, CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri has said. Proposals are now due Aug. 2.

The ACCVA became a division of the CRDA earlier this year as was required by the same legislation that created the Atlantic City Tourism District. Gov. Chris Christie had publicly criticized the agency's spending and said another organization should be in charge of marketing the city.

The Atlantic City Alliance, also created by Tourism District legislation, is now largely responsible for the city's overall marketing efforts but works closely with the ACCVA division. The new 25-page request for proposals, however, points to the state's desire to place an increased importance on the city's ability to book conventions and entertainment events at the venues.

Respondents will be required to provide a written description of strategies for working with the casinos and area organizations in booking events at the properties.

"In booking events, it is also expected that the successful respondent will leverage its industry network to maximize usage and financial performance," according to the request for proposals that calls for respondents to include lists of events that have a strong possibility of booking one of the Atlantic City venues.

The CRDA is seeking a three-year arrangement with the right to renew the agreement for two additional one-year periods. All respondents must have five years of experience at the exclusive provider of facility management services for convention centers and arenas of similar size to Atlantic City's facilities, the request states.

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