It’s going to be slots on the Boardwalk and shots on the beach.
This past week, Atlantic City’s council announced that they approved Hard Rock Atlantic City’s request to build a bar on the beach between Maryland Avenue and Steel Pier. The added beach bar is another big bat in a lineup of entertainment venues. And those entertainment venues may produce the biggest hits of the year.
According to legal documents obtained by the Press of Atlantic City, those who were involved in the decision pointed to Hard Rock’s economic leverage as a reason why the request was approved.
“Hard Rock has requested that the city authorize Hard Rock to apply for all necessary permits and approvals,” the paper reported. “Because of the economic impact of Hard Rock and the benefits to the City of Atlantic City, its visitors, residents and taxpayers, the City is willing to accommodate Hard Rock’s request.”
Councilmember Kaleem Shabazz confirmed the council’s decision, saying that Hard Rock will bring people to the city, plain and simple.
Hard Rock came when Atlantic City needed it the most
That the city’s councilmembers approved Hard Rock’s plans wasn’t a surprise. The new hotel is generating the type of buzz the city desperately needed after hitting the proverbial rock bottom in 2016.
In the previous two years, five casinos had closed. In July 2016, UNITE HERE Local 54 workers went on strike when Trump Taj Mahal owner Carl Icahn refused to afford workers key benefits. Those benefits were taken away during the Taj’s bankruptcy proceedings a few years earlier.
The Taj closed its doors in October 2016. Meanwhile, the shuttered Revel was going nowhere as new owner Glenn Straub continued his outlandish quest to frustrate local and state regulators. Permits were missing, grand openings never happened, and the $2.4-billion flagship property was nothing more than a glass-encased coffin of incompetence.
In April of 2017, all of the madness, frustration, and losses met a huge dose of optimism when it was announced that Hard Rock International had purchased the Taj for $50 million and planned to renovate the property and turn it into Hard Rock Atlantic City. The original estimated cost of the renovation was $375 million, although now that number is $500 million. It was projected that the project would create 1,000 temporary construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs.
Just the brand value of Hard Rock was enough to lift the city’s spirits. However, as Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen pointed out that year, the project was more than just bringing a big name to the city. The goal is also to transform it from a weekender’s paradise to a seven-days-a-week destination.
“Unfortunately, I have a tremendous respect for our competitors in town, but Atlantic City has turned into a one-and-a-half-night town,” Allen was quoted as saying.
What’s next for Hard Rock Atlantic City?
The Hard Rock is scheduled to open this summer along with Ocean Resort Casino, making it arguably the most significant season in the past five years.
There’s little doubt that Hard Rock will do well — anything is possible — but there is still some consternation. For one, many wonder how the addition of two new casinos will affect the revenue of the other seven properties in the city.
Experts say it will shake out one of two ways: either everyone continues to get a piece of the pie or the city’s weakest casinos will lose their seat at the table in the midst of a fierce battle for customers.