New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney said Wednesday he will introduce legislation to rename Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall in honor of the late State Sen. Jim Whelan.  The circa 1929 landmark would be called "Senator Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall" under the designation.

State Sen. Jim Whelan, (D., Northfield) in a file image from April 30, 2015.
AP Photo/Mel Evans, File
State Sen. Jim Whelan, (D., Northfield) in a file image from April 30, 2015.

Whelan, 68, a Democrat, died of a heart attack Aug. 22. The senator was recovering from surgery he underwent in July to remove cancerous growths from his kidneys and was at home preparing to talk with a Netflix documentary crew about Atlantic City when he died, according to published reports.

Whelan, a public school teacher, served as mayor of Atlantic City for three terms before being elected to the New Jersey Assembly in 2006. Two years later, he became a senator.  He announced his retirement from the Legislature earlier this year citing health concerns.

A public memorial service for Whelan is scheduled for Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Boardwalk Hall.

"Senator Whelan spent decades in public service fighting for the residents of the region and the city he loved.  The transformation of Atlantic City we are seeing now is a result of his tireless work and will be part of his legacy," Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said in a statement.

Sweeney called Boardwalk Hall one of Atlantic City's "most historic and revered places" and said it would be fitting that the resort's "biggest champion" be honored by having his name forever associated with it.

"This designation will honor him in the best way we can, by dedicating Atlantic City's iconic entertainment and sports venue to an icon in his own right," said Assembly Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli, one of the Assembly cosponsors of the legislation.