A cold and dreary day last week met with warmth and celebration in Atlantic City. And that seems to be the forecast for the entire summer when Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City opens for good.

With its much-anticipated grand opening fast approaching, Hard Rock AC unveiled a new preview center last week in the Tanger Outlets. The preview provided guests with a sneak peek at what could be expected at the casino when the $500 million project officially opens its doors.

And what can be expected? Innovation, excitement, entertainment — all supported by and to support the community.

Community, casino higher-ups emphasize, is the key component to revitalizing the Boardwalk.

Atlantic City gets a taste of Hard Rock

Nearly 50 people attended the opening of the Hard Rock Atlantic City preview center. Each received drumsticks and tambourines bearing the company’s logo.

The event was meant to give attendees the opportunity to sign up for Wild Card Rewards memberships. Signing up would enter them into a prize draw for a 2018 Tesla Model S. But it was also to see memorabilia from Hard Rock’s 85,000-piece collection and meet company staff.

Open for eight hours every weekday, and for six hours on weekends, the preview was festive and lively. And it is the latest step in the casino’s journey to becoming what they hope will be the crown jewel of Atlantic City.

“It really, truly is hanging a shingle in town, our first one in Atlantic City,” said Todd Moyer, senior vice president of marketing for the casino told the Press of Atlantic City. “We’re building a much bigger one down the street, but having a place we can call home is pretty cool. Atlantic City is on a roll. Things are looking bright for this town.”

Certainly, the casino strives to become a major player along the shoreline. Yet the focus of Hard Rock AC has never wavered.

Community first …

On the home page of its website, Hard Rock Atlantic City is emphatic about one thing: It “will be THE destination within a destination town.”

The casino is determined to attract visitors from all walks of life to “celebrate the pleasures of life: music, fun, and partying like a rock star.” (More on that soon.)

During the preview event, several attendees were in awe and optimistic about what could be once Hard Rock Atlantic City opens its doors.

“This (project) is breathing life back into the city,” said Shakir Salaam, who will work at the casino. “We need it.”

Added Donna Danielson, general manager of Tanger Outlets: “We’re excited to have this partnership working together to help the city.”

Atlantic City was once the place to be. In recent years, however, financial woes have slashed the area to its bones. Thirteen operating casinos were trimmed to five in the span of five years.

But that’s all changing. This summer, two new casinos will take the spotlight in AC: Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort Casino. And Hard Rock is adamant about breathing life back into the Boardwalk.

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… Success second

The casino took over what was formerly Trump Taj Mahal and spent $500 million on renovations. Those decisions were made not just to get Hard Rock’s spot on the shore but to reinvigorate a once vibrant city. In the process, the company continues to build a mutually-beneficial relationship with Atlantic City.

In February, Hard Rock International Chairman Jim Allen expressed how important it was for his company to have positive relationships with the AC community in order to grow a sustainable business and increase tourism. After all, community alliance leads to a stronger customer base.

Together, said Matt Harkness, the president of Hard Rock AC and a New Jersey native, Atlantic City can return to prominence.

“I believe in the renaissance of Atlantic City, and I am confident Hard Rock will set a new standard in this city and our region,” Harkness said in an interview in Light’s On. “Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will draw an enormous amount of interest to Atlantic City. It will truly be unlike anything else this town has ever experienced.”

What’s in store at Hard Rock Atlantic City?

Already, Hard Rock Atlantic City is expected to boast several features that will help the company follow through on its promises.

The casino, which is also expected to have a gas station and a car wash, has assured 200 nights of live music in its first year. Shows will be staged at the 400-seat Hard Rock Cafe as well as at an existing concert space, which is expanding by 1,800 seats to house 7,000 music lovers.

On top of that, Atlantic City’s council announced last month an approval to Hard Rock AC’s request to construct a beach bar near Steel Pier. That decision was made, according to legal documents, because the casino is poised to provide a large economic impact that will benefit “the City of Atlantic City, its visitors, residents, and taxpayers.”

Hard Rock AC has confidence in Atlantic City, which continues to return the favor. Only time will tell if that confidence is well-placed.