The Atlantic City Tourism District was created last year by Gov. Christie with the backing of the Legislature to offer more non-gaming attractions and help boost tourism. The effort has included new lighting, facade projects, and artwork along the Boardwalk this year.
"This is another great amenity for Atlantic City," said Don Marrandino, Caesars Entertainment Eastern Division president, who appeared with Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford and other officials Friday. "We envision bringing in professional and national teams to compete in tournaments.
"They will book rooms here and fill the restaurants," he said. "I can see us attracting crowds of 5,000 to 6,000 for these tournaments."
Marrandino said one of his Showboat employees approached him with the idea several months ago. Roughly 3,800 tons of sand were used to convert one acre into three courts.
On Friday, cast members of Legends in Concert at Bally's squared off against Divas in a Man's World at Resorts. The AC Volleyball Association, which will manage the year-round courts, also played a match.
"We've activated a vacant parcel along the Boardwalk now with a free, non-gaming activity that's open to the public . . . and serves both the residents, the businesses and our visitors," said CRDA executive director John Palmieri.
Gaming industry observers say Atlantic City was moving in the right direction in trying to emphasize other attractions amid brutal competition from casinos in Pennsylvania, New York and, most recently, Maryland.
Business has been down for Atlantic City's 11 casinos all year compared with last year. On Monday, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is expected to release casino revenue figures for August.
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