This morning, the Meadowlands Chamber held a tourism and stakeholders meeting to discuss the current state of tourism and hospitality in the Meadowlands and what can be done to improve it.
The Chamber’s own Judy Ross, who currently serves as the senior director of operations, kicked off the meeting by introducing the event’s upcoming speakers and providing the audience with a brief overview of transportation and tourism in the Meadowlands and why its success is crucial.
The event’s first speaker was Jim Kirkos, President and CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber. Kirkos discussed the Meadowlands Convention Center, a multi-billion dollar project that he hopes to see gain traction in the near future. The concepts for the center span 460,000 square feet and contain an attached hotel, as well as a monorail-like system that can be used to transport guests from the center to American Dream.
The convention center would play host to events such as trade shows, consumer shows, conventions and amateur sporting events. While it is expected to cost around $1.5 billion to build, it is estimated to generate over $3.5 billion in capturable taxes.
Kirkos stated that if the convention center is confirmed and able to be built, “New Jersey will no longer be an alternative to New York City”. The region which has constantly lived in the shadow of the Big Apple, would finally have the ability to separate itself and become a tourism powerhouse, just as New York City is.
The Meadowlands Live! Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (MLCVB) work on the convention center has been so impressive, that they were recently awarded for it. The New Jersey Tourism Industry Association (NJTIA) announced Meadowlands Live! CVB as the winner of the Excellence in Tourism Award for Public Relations for their work towards the development center.
Next up at the podium was Allison Best, Business Development at Northstar Travel Group, who discussed the rising trends in the travel industry and how many people in the industry are optimistic for 2024.
The cause for the optimism comes from the fact that meeting planners are booking new meetings, booking activity has been on the rise and face-to-face interactions are more valuable than ever. Though this isn’t to say that there are no concerns, as Best listed both COVID and an increase in the cost of goods and services as two causes of worry for meeting planners.
Following Best was Peter Ciriello, Business Development Director of the Sports Division at Northstar Travel Group, who discussed how sporting events can be a leading source of income for the proposed convention center. Ciriello talked about how convention centers are one of the most popular venues for volleyball, wrestling, basketball, dance, pickleball and cheer events, which brings hundreds of families to the area. In 2019, it was determined that sports travelers spent $9.7 billion on transportation, $8.4 billion on lodging and $7.5 billion on food and beverage.
Even bigger than amateur sporting events is the FIFA World Cup, which is widely regarded as the largest sporting event in the entire world. Luckily, the 2026 World Cup just happens to be in North America, Canada and Mexico, with MetLife Stadium being chosen as one of the venues to host it. The stadium chosen to host the World Cup Final is reportedly down to MetLife Stadium and AT&T Stadium in Dallas, but even if MetLife doesn’t get the final, the amount of attention that the Meadowlands tourism and travel industry will attract is enormous.
Bringing the meeting to a close was Ron Simoncini, President and CEO of Axiom Communications who went over how the Meadowlands is one of the premier destinations for travel in New Jersey, rivaled by very few cities. The region has an untapped potential, that is just waiting to be discovered so that it can blossom to show its full capabilities.