Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall in 1992
|Former names||Convention Hall|
|Location||2301 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States|
|Public transit||NJ Transit bus: 505, 507, 508, 509 (at Atlantic Avenue)|
|Liberty Bowl (NCAA) (1964)|
Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies (ECHL) (2001–2005)
Atlantic City CardSharks (NIFL) (2004)
Albany Devils (AHL) (2010–2014)
Atlantic City Blackjacks (AFL) (2019)
|Architect||Lockwood, Greene & Co.|
|NRHP reference No.||87000814|
|Added to NRHP||February 27, 1987|
|Designated NHL||February 27, 1987|
|Designated NJRHP||March 2, 1993|
Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, formerly known as the Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall, is an arena in Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States. It was Atlantic City's primary convention center until the opening of the Atlantic City Convention Center in 1997. Boardwalk Hall was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1987 as one of the only surviving buildings from the city's early heyday as a seaside resort. The venue seats 10,500 people for ice hockey, and at maximum capacity can accommodate 14,770 for concerts. Boardwalk Hall is the home of the Miss America Pageant.
Boardwalk Hall contains the world's largest musical instrument, a pipe organ of over 33,000 pipes, eight chambers, its console the world's largest of seven manuals and over 1000 stop keys, and one of two 64-foot stops (the other found in the Sydney Town Hall). Also included in this organ are pipes operating on 100 inches of pressure, the Grand Ophicleide being the loudest and also most famous. The Guinness Book of World Records states the following "... a pure trumpet note of ear-splitting volume, ... six times louder than the loudest train whistle." However, these stops are actually well-refined and are not overpowering in Boardwalk Hall due to its huge interior.
In October 2017, The state Senate approved legislation to dedicate Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall in honor of state Sen. Jim Whelan, the former mayor and state lawmaker who died earlier in the year.
Edward L. Bader, mayor of Atlantic City from 1924–1929, led the initiative to acquire the land for Convention Hall, now Boardwalk Hall, and construction was underway at the time of his death. The hall, designed by the architectural firm Lockwood Greene, was built in 1926.
The main hall measures 456 by 310 feet (139 by 94 m). The barrel vault ceiling is 137 feet (42 m) high. Ten pairs of three-hinged steel trusses support this unusually large clear span; there are no supporting columns. Each pair of trusses spans 350 feet (110 m) and weighs 220 short tons (200 t). The trusses are tied to the frame columns to allow the building to flex slightly with wind and ground pressure. The barrel ceiling consists of painted aluminum tiles. It is decorated to resemble Roman bath tiles, and extends over 196,000 square feet (18,200 m2).
The Miss America Pageant, founded in 1921 in Atlantic City, used Boardwalk Hall from the hall's opening in 1940 until 2006. The Pageant returned to the hall in 2013. It was last used for Miss America 2019.
It was also the venue for the August 1964 Democratic National Convention that nominated U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson as the Democratic Party's candidate for the 1964 U.S. presidential election, nine months after the assassination of his predecessor, John F. Kennedy, in November 1963.
The following weekend, The Beatles held one of their largest concerts on their first U.S. tour at the hall.
Judy Garland gave a concert at Convention Hall on August 4, 1961. Garland returned for a second engagement on Sept 3rd, 1961
The hall was also the venue for the concert by The Rolling Stones on their Steel Wheels Tour in 1989. The concert, which was shown on pay-per-view television, is widely remembered by fans for a mishap where viewers were cut off from the performance during the song "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", as well as the performance of "Miss You" in some countries.
On March 7, 2003, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed. Tickets for the event were immediately sold-out. Springsteen returned to perform a solo show on his Devils & Dust Tour on November 13, 2005.
Phish played three nights at Boardwalk Hall for Halloween in both 2010 and 2013. The 2010 Halloween concert featured a performance of Little Feat's Waiting For Columbus album in its entirety. The 2013 show included the debut of Phish's unrecorded album Wingsuit, which would later become the album Fuego.
American pop star Madonna performed at the venue four times, with the first sold-out show at arena in front of 12,322 people during her Confessions Tour on July 16, 2006, she performed the second show in front of 13,293 people during her Sticky & Sweet Tour on November 22, 2008, and the third show in front of 12,207 people during her MDNA Tour on September 15, 2012, The fourth and last time in front of 9,498 people during her Rebel Heart Tour on October 3, 2015.
Lady Gaga was scheduled to perform here on March 2, 2013 for her Born This Way Ball, but the show was later cancelled due to a hip injury which required surgery. She has previously performed at the arena on July 4, 2010 and February 19, 2011 as a part of her Monster Ball Tour. She performed a sold-out show on June 28, 2014 for her Artrave: The Artpop Ball Tour.
Mike Tyson fought in Boardwalk Hall several times as Heavyweight champion including four of his seven defenses as Undisputed Champion. Among his title defenses in Boardwalk Hall was a Fourth Round TKO over former champion Larry Holmes on January 22, 1988. His most famous bout at the venue was the 91-second Knockout of former champion and previously undefeated Michael Spinks on June 27, 1988.
Other fighters who have had boxing matches (many of which were title fights) in Boardwalk Hall include Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Durán, Lennox Lewis, Roy Jones Jr., Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bernard Hopkins, Riddick Bowe, Julio César Chávez, Héctor Camacho, Micky Ward, and Arturo Gatti.
Prior to 1973, the NCAA was divided into two divisions, University and College. Boardwalk Hall hosted bowl games in both divisions; the University Division later became NCAA Division I, while the College Division became Division II and Division III.
In 1959, A. F. "Bud" Dudley, a former Villanova University athletic director, created the Liberty Bowl, an annual post-season college-football bowl game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The game was played at Philadelphia Municipal Stadium, but as the only cold-weather bowl game, it was plagued by poor attendance. A group of Atlantic City businessmen convinced Dudley to move his game from Philadelphia to Boardwalk Hall for 1964 and guaranteed Dudley $25,000.
The 1964 Liberty Bowl was the first major (University Division) collegiate bowl game played indoors and was also the first indoor football game broadcast nationwide on U.S. television. Since artificial turf was still in its developmental stages and was unavailable for the game, the hall was equipped with a four-inch-thick grass surface with two inches of burlap underneath it (as padding) on top of concrete. To keep the grass growing, artificial lighting was installed and kept on 24 hours a day. The entire process cost about $16,000. End zones were only eight yards long instead of the usual ten yards.
6,059 fans saw the Utah Utes rout the West Virginia Mountaineers, 32–6. Dudley was paid $25,000 from Atlantic City businessmen, $60,000 from ticket sales, and $95,000 from television revenues, for a $10,000 net profit. This would be the only time the game was played in Atlantic City, as Dudley moved it the following year to Memphis, Tennessee, where it remains to this day.
Boardwalk Hall was also the venue of the former Boardwalk Bowl post-season game from 1961 to 1973. From 1961 through 1967, the games were the "Little Army-Navy Game", featuring the College Division's Pennsylvania Military College and the Merchant Marine Academy. From 1968 through 1972, the bowl was the East regional final for the College Division; Delaware won four times, and Massachusetts won once. The final playing of the bowl was in 1973, as a Division II quarterfinal; Grambling defeated Delaware.
Indoor and Arena Football
In 2004, it was the home of the Atlantic City CardSharks, a professional indoor football team that played a single season in the National Indoor Football League. They finished the regular season in second place for their division with a 9–5 record and lost in the wild card round of the playoffs to the Lexington Horsemen 54–25.
The Syracuse Nationals and the Philadelphia Warriors played a regular season game at the arena on December 29, 1949. The game was part of a double header. The opening game was an exhibition basketball game between selected players of the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins.
|December 29, 1949||Syracuse Nationals||64–62||Philadelphia Warriors||RS||1,229|
|October 13, 2012||Brooklyn Nets||108–105||Philadelphia 76ers||PS||6,887|
During the 2010–2011 season, Boardwalk Hall hosted four home games for the Albany Devils and one home game for the Trenton Devils both affiliated with the New Jersey Devils. The Albany Devils returned to play four home games during the 2012–13 and 2013–14 seasons.
Despite not having a team in Atlantic City, the American Hockey League hosted the 2012 All-Star Classic at Boardwalk Hall.
On November 24, 2012, Boardwalk Hall hosted "Operation Hat Trick", a charity hockey game to raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims. Among the NHL players who particated were Martin Brodeur, Andy Greene, Henrik Lundqvist, Bobby Ryan, and James van Riemsdyk.
Other sporting events
The Hall hosted the World Wrestling Entertainment's WrestleMania IV and V in 1988 and 1989, respectively, although on the television coverage it was referred to as "Trump Plaza" because the adjacent casino hotel was the primary sponsor (though in the opening to WM4 celebrity guest Bob Uecker does refer to the building as the 'convention center'). WrestleMania IV was attended by 18,165 fans while WrestleMania V had an attendance of 18,946 putting the respective shows 23rd and 20th on the all-time WrestleMania attendances (out of 31 as of 2016[update]).
Many WWE shows have also been held with both WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown making appearances. Referred to as the Atlantic City Convention Center during the WrestleMania broadcasts, it is the only venue to host the annual pay-per-view event in consecutive years.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association uses the hall to host the annual individual state wrestling tournament.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has held four events in the hall, UFC 41: Onslaught in 2003, UFC 50: The War of '04 in 2004, UFC 53: Heavy Hitters in 2005, and most recently UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Lee in 2018.
Midget car racing events have been held at the Boardwalk Hall since 1938. Since 2003 it hosts the Atlantic City Indoor Races, a round of the Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series.
A $90-million restoration designed by EwingCole was completed in 2001 and received several awards, including the 2003 National Preservation Award[clarification needed] and Building magazine's 2002 Modernization Award. The organ in the hall, which is the world's biggest, has been severely damaged in the process.
Constructed between May 1929 and December 1932, the Main Auditorium Organ is the "Poseidon" Midmer-Losh pipe organ, the world's-largest, as listed in The Guinness Book of World Records. The instrument has approximately 33,000 pipes and requires approximately 600 horsepower (450 kW) of blowers to operate. The condition of the organ deteriorated partly as a result of carelessness during hall renovation in 2001, and was no longer functional. However a repair program began in 2007, bringing the organ back to about 25% functionality by 2013.
Boardwalk Hall's attached ballroom contains a 55-rank Kimball concert/theater pipe organ — originally installed to accompany silent movies — that was severely damaged during the hall's renovation. Compared to the Main Auditorium organ, this organ looks tiny. The Ballroom organ is actually one of the largest theater organs by rank count, second to Radio City Hall's WurliTzer theater organ (58 ranks).
Restoration efforts have been underway, originally overseen by the Atlantic City Convention Hall Organ Society, now renamed Boardwalk Pipes, initially funded by private donations and federal Save America's Treasures grants. The organ restoration is overseen by the Historic Organ Restoration Committee, a 501(c)3 nonprofit chartered by the state of New Jersey for the restoration and preservation of the two pipe organs of Historic Boardwalk Hall. With additional foundation and private funding, the committee forecasts completion of restoration in 2023.
The convention center is one of the only buildings surviving from Atlantic City's heyday as a seaside resort in the 1920s. It was an architectural and engineering triumph, its convention space providing the largest interior space with an unobstructed view at the time. It was recognized for its engineering as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1983, and as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Billboard magazine recognized Boardwalk Hall as the top-grossing mid-sized arena in the U.S. in 2003 and 2004. In 2003, The Ring magazine Fight of the Year was Gatti vs Ward which was hosted at the Hall.
- Atlantic City Armory
- Atlantic City Convention Center
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|journal=(help) and Accompanying 12 photos, exterior and interior, from 1977, 1985 and undated. (2.75 MB)
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- Notable Boxing Events at Boardwalk Hall
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Boardwalk Hall.|
- Official website
- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. NJ-1130, "Atlantic City Convention Hall, On Boardwalk, West of Mississippi Avenue, Atlantic City, Atlantic County, NJ"
- Image of Boardwalk Hall Auditorium Interior
|Events and tenants|
| Miss America Venue
Theatre for the Performing Arts
Philadelphia Municipal Stadium
| Home of the
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Theatre for the Performing Arts
| Miss America Venue