May 07, 2008

Tropicana Entertainment LLC filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection on Monday. In an interview with the Associated Press, Tropicana president Scott Butera cited the company's December loss of its Tropicana Atlantic City casino license as a significant factor in the decision. Butera added that the company intends to maintain current staffing levels and will keep all properties open and running. Tropicana properties named in the filing include: Tropicana Casino & Resort in Las Vegas; Bayou Caddy's Jubilee Casino in Greenville, Miss.; Casino Aztar in Evansville, Ind.; Horizon Casino Hotel in Vicksburg, Miss.; Horizon Casino Resort and MontBleau Resort Casino & Spa in Lake Tahoe, Nev.; River Palm Resort & Casino in Laughlin, Nev.; and Sheraton Hotel and Belle of Baton Rouge Casino. The Tropicana Atlantic City is not part of the filing. Tropicana Entertainment, the property's former owner, hasn't run the hotel since a December decision by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission not to renew the owner's license. "Financially, Tropicana Atlantic City has more than adequate liquidity to meet our current and future operating needs, and we fully intend to meet all of our obligations to employees, vendors and customers alike," said Tropicana president and COO Mark Giannantonio in a statement.

Susan Sarfati, founding president and CEO of The Center for Association Leadership and current executive vice president of ASAE, will be departing the association at the end of August. "Going forward, my work and career will continue to focus on leadership development, social responsibility, women's issues, and contributions to the association and meetings industry, which are all my passions," Sarfati said in a statement. Sarfati previously served as president and CEO of the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives and helped shape the modern-day ASAE & The Center.

Reba Pittman Walker, CEO and general manager of the Washington Convention Center Authority, resigned May 2, citing personal reasons. Pittman Walker had been with the authority since January 2006.æThe WCCA, the marketing arm of the city's 2.3 million-square-foot Walter E. Washington Convention Center, will announce a successor by May 20.

Last week saw the reopening of the Georgia World Congress Center, which had been damaged by the tornado that tore through downtown Atlanta in April. More than 1,000 workers spent 42 days repairing the roofs, ceilings, windows and building structures. An official cost estimate of the damages has yet to be released by GWCC officials.

The board of the Arlington (Texas) Convention & Visitors Bureau has named Jay Burress, currently senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, as its president and CEO. Beginning his new job on June 2, Burress takes over the position from Linda Howell DiMario, who resigned at the end of last year. Burress has worked for the Dallas CVB for 20 years.

M&C's legal columnist, Jonathan T. Howe, Esq., has been named the first recipient of the Hospitality Industry Attorney of the Year award by the Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys. The award was presented at the Academy's Spring Meeting on April 26 in Philadelphia. Howe is a founding partner and president of the law firm of Howe & Hutton Ltd. in Chicago.

The San Jose (Calif.) City Council last week agreed to consider design plans for a $250 million upgrade and expansion of the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. The Council approved spending more than $5 million to draft design plans, to be completed in October, but details for funding the construction have not been approved. According to the San Jose Mercury News, $125 million for the project might be generated by a proposed new hotel tax, which would increase the city's bed tax from 10 to 14 percent. The rest of the funding would be raised through the issuing of bonds. While no plans are final, one proposal would increase the center's square footage by 30 percent to a total of 880,000 square feet.

American Airlines will cease operations out of Oakland (Calif.) International Airport beginning Sept. 3, citing rising fuel costs. The carrier currently offers three daily nonstop flights between Oakland and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. During the past few months, the Oakland airport also has lost flights from Aloha, ATA and Skybus Airlines.

The 350-room Avenue Hotel opened last week just off Michigan Avenue in Chicago, with 13,000 square feet of meeting space and 5,000 square feet of prefunction space. Divided among three floors, all meeting rooms have natural light. Other amenities include free wireless Internet access, a Sky Lounge on the 40th floor, and a street-level Elephant & Castle Restaurant and Pub.

The 134-room W Istanbul opened yesterday, marking the debut of Starwood Hotels & Resorts' W brand in Europe. The property has two meeting rooms, a branch of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Spice Market restaurant and a signature spa.