Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City continues its attempt to establish itself as a viable, sustainable and all-out success — even if it has yet to open along the New Jersey coast.

According to the Press of Atlantic City, company executives met with more than 100 community members last week. They stressed that Hard Rock International, which in April 2017 purchased the closed Trump Taj Mahal, is committed to the region. They also emphasized that assistance from the community will return the once-booming resort to its glory.

Meeting the Atlantic City community

Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen addressed the more-than 100 Atlantic City residents at New Shiloh Baptist Church last week, saying that the casino “will not get to the next level unless we bring together the community and the casino to get to the next level.”

Last spring, Hard Rock partnered with New Jersey property developers The Morris Family and construction and energy developers The Jingoli Family to purchase the Taj for $50 million. The Taj opened in 1990 and closed just two years ago.

Soon after acquiring the property, Hard Rock announced a $375 million renovation and rebranding. Since then, the estimated cost swelled to more than $500 million. The renovations are an effort to open an extravagant gambling and entertainment complex by this summer.

Of course, this information could easily have been circulated through myriad press releases. But last week’s meeting showed the community that Hard Rock Atlantic City would be unique to the area, particularly in creating a community boon.

For example, Allen said, the plan would be for Hard Rock not to steal customers from other casinos but rather draw more customers to the area.

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Hard Rock Atlantic City has a strong foundation

Hard Rock is seemingly a well-oiled machine with 227 branded rock venues, a presence in 75 countries, and $5 billion generated in revenues. Its brand name alone is strong, and that, Allen said, is what will make Hard Rock Atlantic City a mainstay at the shore.

That’s yet another reason the company is convinced it can increase visitation to the area.

“The brand can drive people back to Atlantic City,” Allen said. “We have a diverse, eclective list of assets to drive business back to Atlantic City. … We are not in the mindset to save our way out of a problem.”

Past problems in NJ casino history still an issue

Heading into 2014, Atlantic City featured 13 operating casinos. However, that total dwindled to nine by the end of the year. Eventually, a total of five NJ casinos closed, stripping the area of its strength and workforce, as it was reported that an estimated 10,000 workers left the city.

While Hard Rock, as well as Ocean Resort Casino (formerly Revel), are set to open in 2018, the fear of another bubble bursting lingers.

Adding to the skepticism, some fear there will be not enough people to adequately fill the new casino jobs. While the opening of the two New Jersey casinos could create more than 6,500 jobs, an issue could be a “mismatch” between the positions offered. The availability and expertise of those looking for work may cause problems.

Hard Rock AC outlook still positive

Hard Rock AC still plans to open its doors this summer, possibly by June. The redesigned hotel will feature the company’s renowned music memorabilia as well as 2,400 slot machines and 130 table games. To boot, the resort would boast two arenas, each with more than 7,000 seats, to host live music, sporting events, and shows.

“We are more excited about this opportunity today than we were a year ago,” Allen said at last week’s meeting in Atlantic City. “We are going to spend our money. We are going to change perceptions.”

Grant Lucas

About

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.