In a push for construction of a 1 million square-foot convention center, a panel of industry experts presented the Meadowlands sports complex as a prime location for the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce to consider building on Oct. 2.
Panel speakers believed that adding a new facility to the area would draw tens of thousands of people. Beneficial factors include the surrounding demographics, transportation links, existing sports facilities and plans for the Triple 5 project.
A “vision plan” was originally outlined in August to include a convention center ranging from 700,000 up to 1 million square feet as well as two hotels with 2,000 rooms. The panel, consisting of developers and operators of convention centers, touted the benefits of a significantly larger convention center.
The existing Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus offers only 60,000 square feet, losing shows to larger facilities as they expand, according to Executive Director Robin Cuneo.
Reporting that events would likely outgrow nearby Jacob K. Javits Center in New York at 840,000 square feet of exhibit space, Marty Glynn, principal and CEO, Metropolitan Exposition Services, supported the proposal.
“The footprint of the Meadowlands is so significant that it makes it logistically feasible and cost effective,” Glynn added.
Panelists claimed that developing a casino gambling at the complex would likely boost tradeshow bookings that could fill hotels with attendees during the week and casino visitors on the weekends. Hotel guests would also patronize nearby restaurants, stores, hotels and entertainment establishments during their stay, according to Bob McClintock, president and COO, SMG, which manages Meadowlands Expo Center.
“Having a casino adjacent to a convention center marries both businesses very well,” said McClintock.
To build a casino outside of Atlantic City would require a state referendum. Elected officials Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, Passaic, and Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Bergen, Passaic, reportedly have pledged their support.
“The casino is a component,” said Jim Kirkos, president and CEO of the chamber. “The convention center puts in literally thousands, if not millions of people a year through the region and a lot of these people will want the gaming for their entertainment.”