You wonder if part of the problem is that so many of the people who hold Atlantic City's future in their hands today weren't here in the old days and can't visualize it. But even in the mid-1970s, when everybody said Atlantic City was dying, conventions were still turning Wednesday nights into Saturday nights for Atlantic City's hotels and restaurants.

The Shriners, big unions like the United Auto Workers, trade shows of every variety would pack the city in the winter and have cash registers ringing midweek.

Beach towns are seasonal towns. Offseason conventions were gold then - and could be gold now.

Which is why we are mildly heartened by a renewed push to attract conventions to Atlantic City - and mildly disappointed that, three years into the resort's state-imposed five-year opportunity to save itself, the new push involves creating yet another agency that will meet for the first time ... in maybe a month or two.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: A greater sense of urgency wouldn't hurt.

Folding the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority into the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, as required under the legislation that created the Tourism District, took more than two years. Meanwhile, the city's convention business dropped 15 percent between 2010 and 2013.

A key problem, CRDA officials and others said repeatedly, was that, as a government agency, the ACCVA was hamstrung by regulations that hindered the kind of travel, wining and dining, and sales-force compensation packages that are necessary to sell conventions.

So now, a new nonprofit - Meet AC - is being created. The group will have an $8 million annual budget funded by the CRDA and a five-member board made up of one CRDA member, one local business or tourism official and three members of the local hospitality industry, at least of two whom will be from the casino industry.

And the group's sales force will apparently have the freedom that had been lacking to go out and pitch the resort. According to the CRDA's consultant on the project, 98 percent of convention sales organizations nationwide are set up this way as nonprofits.

But we have to say, if the problem was so obvious - the need for the kind of sales organization that exists in 98 percent of other convention towns - why did it take so long to create it?

Even CRDA Vice Chairman Robert Mulcahy is acknowledging the growing dissatisfaction with the pace of change in the city. "We understand the urgency," Mulcahy said during last week's CRDA board meeting. "Sometimes we don't always exhibit it, but we understand it."

So that's somewhat encouraging.

We just wish it were more encouraging.


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