Founded in 2015, the Atlantic City Sports Commission has cemented its place as a cornerstone of the destination’s multitiered, non-gaming marketing strategy.
An early success came in October 2015, when Ironman, the famed global endurance competition brand founded in 1978 on the trademarked principle that “Anything is Possible,” announced that an East Coast expansion would bring its 70.3 triathlon to Atlantic City.
Inaugurated in 2016, back this year and returning in September 2018, the three-phase course takes full advantage of the area’s assets. After a 1.2-mile swim in Atlantic City’s back bays, contestants bike 56 miles through vineyards, forests, local towns and a portion of the Atlantic City Expressway, before finishing with a 13.1-mile run ending on the world-famous Boardwalk.
With Atlantic City’s own “Ironman”, developer Anthony Catanoso, crossing the finish line this fall on his massive Observation Wheel at Steel Pier project (see “Man of Steel), the Sports Commission, working closely with Atlantic County’s sports facility management, hotels, resort-casinos and meeting venues, continues to solicit, book and roll out a diverse calendar of sporting and competitive events.
Early 2018 bookings include Spirit Cheer’s “Beast of the East” winter nationals, and the U.S. Futsal (Five-a-Side, or MiniSoccer) Northeast Regional Championship (the sport’s largest event east of the Rockies), both at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Boardwalk Hall, one of the world’s top-ranked venues in the 10,000- to 15,000-seat category, hosts A-list entertainment, and events such as the annual Indoor Auto Racing Championship, back next month for its 15th edition.
The Commission assists meeting planners by connecting them with the right venue for their event. Other area facilities include Stockton University; 5,500-seat Sandcastle Stadium (baseball); and 142-acre Bader Field, which hosts races and tournaments such as this July’s “Insane Inflatable 5K” obstacle course competition. The former air field also accommodates festivals, which is another non-gaming growth area for the destination.
Popular events in this category include summertime headliner concerts on the beach; the Atlantic City Airshow, dubbed “Thunder Over the Boardwalk,” which attracted 400,000-plus visitors in August 2017; the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, next at the convention center in March 2018; and the Atlantic City Seafood Festival, revived in 2012 and as of 2017, relocated from Bader Field to open space between the reopened Showboat Hotel and soon-to-be relaunched Revel resort.
In Atlantic City, major group events and good times are among the many possibilities.