“This report is a blueprint that will guide our efforts in managing and protecting our gaming, sports and entertainment resources more responsibly and reforming issues critical to New Jersey’s economic future,” said Governor Christie. “I look forward to reviewing all of the Commission’s recommendations so that we can put these industries on a solid foundation and path to long-term economic growth and prosperity.”
In examining the issues confronting New Jersey’s gaming, professional sports, and entertainment industries, the Advisory Commission placed considerable emphasis on the economic conditions facing the State, including high unemployment, the fiscal crisis and realities confronted in the FY 11 State budget, as well as privatized stadium ownership, reduced racing revenues and support of horseracing through purse supplements. The recommendations focus on six key areas beginning with:
Improving the Competitiveness of the Gaming Industry
As one of New Jersey’s largest industries, casino gaming in New Jersey is currently at a critical crossroads. The industry accounts for nearly $1 billion in state and local taxes and more than $2 billion in revenues spread across more than 2,000 businesses. Since 2007, the industry has lost more than 25% of its gross revenue base with employment dipping below 40,000. The Commission recommends an economic framework that focuses on job creation, capital investment, regulatory reform and increased tax revenues. These goals include:
Creating a “Clean and Safe” Tourism District with State oversight, with the goal of making Atlantic City clean and safe by July 1, 2011.
Creating a Master Plan for the new Tourism District, focused on enticing new entrants to build both gaming and non-gaming attractions that will increase demand in the City. The Plan should be delivered to the Governor no later than July 1, 2011.
Improving the financial stability of Atlantic City by attracting other world class operators to ownership of the eleven existing facilities as well as any new ones.
Increasing the meeting and convention business in the Atlantic City market by at least 30% per year for the next five years.
Bringing the New Jersey regulatory structure into the 21st century by reducing costs and redundancies and by supporting the attraction of operators while maintaining strict integrity.
Increasing visitation and spending through joint marketing efforts on par with other national destination resorts.
Improving intermodal transport to Atlantic City, including increasing air, rail and ferry options.Other parts of the plan include resolving the status of the New Jersey Nets lease of the IZOD center. Under the proposal the Nets may opt out of the lease for a fee and play home games for two seasons at the Prudential Center in Newark. The Nets will share the Prudential Center with the Jersey devils hockey team.
Also, the Report examines the viability of the state Sports and Exposition Authority including divesting the NJSEA of all responsibilities related to venue operations, including, in particular, the Meadowlands Racetrack, the IZOD Arena and Monmouth Park Racetrack and ceasing operations of the Meadowlands Racetrack and offering standard bred owners the opportunity to lease the Meadowlands Racetrack.
Also envisioned is the completion of the huge Xanadu entertainment complex at the Meadowlands. The Commission found potential benefits of the project and recommends the State cooperate and, if needed, provide targeted assistance to bring the project to completion in accordance with certain basic principles.
The Commission also envisions creation os a sustainable industry structure to preserve live horseracing in New Jersey and improving cooperation and coordination among New Jersey’s major entertainment venues.
Created by Executive Order #11, the Commission was charged with developing a comprehensive policy to repair the unprecedented financial and structural challenges confronting New Jersey’s gaming, professional sports and entertainment industries
In addition to its chairman Jon Hanson, other members of the Advisory Commission included Robert E. Mulcahy III, a former president of the NJSEA and Athletic Director at Rutgers University; Finn Wentworth, principal of Normandy Partners and Founder of the YES Network; Al Leiter, the former Major League Baseball pitcher and YES Network commentator; Wes Lang, managing director of WML Partners, LLC, a New Jersey private equity investment and development company; Debra P. DiLorenzo, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey; and Robert Holmes, a law professor at Rutgers School of Law in Newark, where he serves as Deputy Director of Clinical Programs and Director of the Community Law Clinic.
To view the report, go to http://www.nj.gov/governor/news/reports/pdf/20100721_state_document_final2.pdf