Promoter signs $1.9 million deal to pump up A.C. entertainment scene
The Press of Atlantic City
ATLANTIC CITY — The town that boasts it is the “Entertainment Capital of the Jersey Shore” is putting up a lot of money to let tourists know that it means (show) business.
AEG, known for promoting recent concert tours involving A-list performers such as Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, Kenny Chesney and Bon Jovi, will book acts for Atlantic City’s 14,000-seat Boardwalk Hall entertainment and sports arena. No shows have been announced yet.
Major concerts at Boardwalk Hall are a centerpiece of Atlantic City’s efforts to diversify its tourist attractions beyond casino gambling and rebrand itself as the “Entertainment Capital of the Jersey Shore.”
“Historic Boardwalk Hall is a critical asset in our strategy to bring nongaming attractions to the city, and the positive results of our efforts to date are evident,” CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri said in a statement Tuesday. “The CRDA welcomes AEG to Atlantic City and we look forward to working together as we continue to diversify our destination.”
Prior to the CRDA agreement, AEG had already established a long history of booking concerts into Boardwalk Hall, including Elton John, The Who, Justin Bieber, Usher, Carrie Underwood and Barry Manilow.
Mark Shulman, vice president and general manager for AEG Live Northeast, said the company will look to bring a diverse lineup to Boardwalk Hall beginning this fall through the CRDA pact.
“We’ve had fantastic discussions with the CRDA in their efforts to bring world-class entertainment to Atlantic City,” Shulman said. “That is something we want to assist with.”
The AEG deal piggybacks on a $1 million agreement between the CRDA and concert giant Live Nation to promote at least 12 big-name shows at Boardwalk Hall this year. The Live Nation pact is initially for one year, but includes options for a second and third year.
On Monday, Live Nation announced it will produce a concert by Maroon 5 and Nick Jonas on the Atlantic City beachfront Aug. 16. Live Nation also promoted two beachfront concerts last summer by Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum that drew about 120,000 country music fans to town.
Atlantic City hopes to transition into an entertainment, dining and shopping destination to offset the dramatically shrinking casino market. Four casinos closed last year, taking 8,000 jobs with them. Palmieri predicted the CRDA’s relationship with multiple concert promoters will rejuvenate the city’s tourist-based economy.
“Atlantic City, with the commitment from the CRDA, is open for business and the Tourism District is alive with new amenities and many event promoters that want access to our marketplace thanks to the investments we are making,” he said.
AEG Live, the live entertainment division of Los Angeles-based AEG, promotes concerts, festivals and special events, including the King Tut exhibit that has attracted more than 7 million visitors since 2005.
The company also has developed a relationship with casinos. Its casino productions in Las Vegas have included Shania Twain at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace and Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
While the AEG and Live Nation deals are designed to bring top concerts to town, the CRDA has also approved about $313,000 in funding to help promote a series of special events through the summer. They include the city’s annual airshow, a seafood festival, a triathlon, cultural events and music and ballet.