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September 21, 2018

Can Atlantic City still afford the Miss America Competition? Officials are cautious

The Miss America competition has roots in Atlantic City dating back to 1921, serving as the backdrop for the evolving tradition since its inception. With its latest contract up after this year's competition, however, the future of the city's role in the pageant is in question.

Miss America's most recent contract with Atlantic City, worth $12.5 million, expired after three years on Sept. 9, following this year's competition. Now officials are saying they're not willing to provide the subsidies worth millions of dollars to keep the competition in Atlantic City, the Press of Atlantic City reported.

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) – the New Jersey government organization responsible for casino reinvestment fund spending – as well as Mayor Frank Gillian, stated that the $4.5 million subsidy is too high for the state.

If the pageant does stay in Atlantic City, however, there is at least a venue change on the table. Gillian said Boardwalk Hall is no longer a good fit for the event, largely due to the high cost of overhead that the venue needs from the competition's organizers.

Despite speculation, negotiations with the Miss America Organization have not yet begun.

"It is premature to discuss the future of Miss America in Atlantic City," said Matt Doherty, executive director at CRDA.

The cautious approach comes after the CRDA faced growing scrutiny over the allocation of funds. Earlier this month a state performance audit highlighted two recent contracts with the Miss America Organization as examples of mismanagement.

First, the audit examined CRDA's three-year contract to fund the competitions from 2014 to 2016. At the end of that term, CRDA had paid $6.8 million to subsidize half of the competition's cost.

Secondly, the following three-year contract guaranteed $12.5 million through the most recent competition. There was an 80 percent increase in cost between the two contracts, and CRDA approved $4.325 million for this year's pageant.

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