Miss America pageant looking to flee Atlantic City -- again -- amid declining attendance, internal conflicts, reports say

The Miss America pageant is once again looking to leave its traditional Atlantic City, N.J., home.

The Miss America Organization has reportedly sent out proposals for cities interested in hosting its competition after its contract with the beach town's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority expires.

The authority has contributed $12 million to the organization over the past three years but has yet to reach a deal on Miss America’s funding requests for the 2020 and 2021 pageants, the Associated Press reported.

One possibility is that the pageant might stay in town but at a smaller venue. An email obtained by the Press of Atlantic City indicates the Miss America organization has considered using sites in Atlantic City other than its current one -- the 12,000-seat Boardwalk Hall -- as a way to reduce expenses.

Miss Delaware Joanna Wicks introduces herself at the start of the third and final night of preliminary competition at the Miss America competition in Atlantic City N.J. (Associated Press)

Miss Delaware Joanna Wicks introduces herself at the start of the third and final night of preliminary competition at the Miss America competition in Atlantic City N.J. (Associated Press)

Local media reports that the pageant was expected to deliver benefits to Atlantic City that never materialized. Declining attendance has also forced the organization to seek venues with smaller seating capacity.

The pageant returned to Atlantic City in 2013 after seven years in Las Vegas. Prior to that, it had been in Atlantic City since the 1920s.

This year, many seats at Boardwalk Hall remained empty during preliminary competition nights, and “seat fillers” were recruited to occupy chairs during the nationally televised finale, according to reports by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, and the Press of Atlantic City.

In return for financial and marketing help, the Miss America Organization is offering to promote the new host city in national news conferences, during the TV broadcast of the pageant, in a spot on its website, and in a full-page ad in the Miss America Competition magazine. Miss America would also serve as a spokeswoman for the host city.

The news is among the latest setbacks for the nearly 100-year pageant.

Late last year, crude emails from Miss America executives that denigrated the intelligence, appearance and sex lives of former title winners surfaced and led to the ousting of several top-tier members.

MISS AMERICA DROPPING SWIMSUIT COMPETITION

Over the summer, the Miss America Organization announced it was dropping the swimsuit competition from its nationally televised broadcast, saying it would no longer judge contestants on their appearance. And in August, 19 former Miss Americas called on leaders of the organization to step down amid allegations from a reigning beauty queen that she was subjected to bullying.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.