The New Jersey Bar Association canceled plans to hold its May 15-17 Annual Meeting and Convention at the Revel Resort and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., and moved it to the Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa three miles away.
The Revel announced in mid-February that it would file for “pre-packaged” Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month. In connection with the plan to convert $1.5 billion in debt into $1 billion of equity for creditors, Revel CEO and founder Kevin DeSanctis resigned March 13.
Two days later, the New Jersey Bar Association (NJBA) announced it would move its annual meeting that typically attracts 2,000 attendees and 100 tradeshow exhibitors.
The bar association is believed to have exercised the standard—albeit little used—clause in hotel contracts that gives meeting planners the right to cancel if and when the venue declares bankruptcy.
“Recent decisions made by Revel have led us to conclude that Revel, in several significant respects, will not be ready to host our event,” says NJBA President Kevin P. McCann.
In response, Revel Senior Vice President Dirk Schavemaker tells Expo via e-mail: “Revel was fully prepared in every way to welcome the members of the N.J. Board Association for their annual meeting. In fact, our staff has worked closely with bar association leadership, beginning in September of last year. We regret that the leadership has decided to move the event.”
DeSanctis could not be reached for comment.
Bar association officials said, once the decision was made, the Borgata was able to accommodate the meeting on the same dates.
The Revel opened a year ago with 1,800 rooms, 70,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space and a 50,000 sq. ft. ballroom. Throughout its planning, construction and early months, DeSanctis advocated for a new business model for Atlantic City that focused more on promoting it as a meeting destination and less reliance on non-gambling revenue.
In 2011, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie bought into the concept and offered the Revel $261 million in tax incentives (which have yet to be triggered since the Revel has not shown a profit so far). In its first year, the Revel suffered losses, as many of Atlantic City’s hotels and casinos did.
The hotel, which cost $2.4 billion to build, reported revenue in the third quarter of last year to the N.J. Department of Gaming Enforcement of $61.9 million, of which $24.1 million derived from non-gaming sources.