Hard Rock Atlantic City ‘Not About Gaming’: Entertainment Is King, Casino Opening June 28

Posted on: April 19, 2018, 07:22h. 

Last updated on: April 19, 2018, 01:25h.

Hard Rock Atlantic City will open its doors on June 28, less than 16 months after the company acquired the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal from billionaire Carl Icahn for $50 million.

Hard Rock Atlantic City opening
CEO Jim Allen (left) says Hard Rock Atlantic City isn’t betting on its casino floor to get visitors inside its doors, but music acts like Blake Shelton. (Image: Wayne Parry/Wade Payne/AP/Casino.org)

The property has undergone a massive $500 million renovation that has stripped the Boardwalk property of its Indian-themed décor in favor of a rock ‘n’ roll style that pays homage to New Jersey’s rich music history. Announcing the June 28 opening this week in Times Square, Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen said all 2,000 guestrooms, bars and restaurants, 7,000-seat theater, and 120,000-square-foot casino floor have been remodeled.

“When we announced that we were going to step in the Atlantic City gaming market, we had a different view point,” Allen told media in attendance. “It’s not about gaming. It’s about entertainment.”

And entertainment Hard Rock has, as along with the opening date, the resort announced that 300 concerts have already been booked for the property’s Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena.

Show Must Go On

In February, Allen made the strong pledge that Hard Rock Atlantic City would host 200 nights of live music in year one. “When’s the last time you saw entertainment on a night other than Saturday in Atlantic City?” he asked at the time.

Indeed, the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority’s Boardwalk Hall, a 15,000-seat space, hosted just 11 music concerts in 2017. Allen says he’s committed to bringing more A-list talent to New Jersey’s gambling capital.

The initial 60 shows unveiled in the 300-act lineup somewhat satisfies that mission, especially for country music. Among those booked includes Florida Georgia Line (July 13, 14), Rascal Flatts (July 26), Blake Shelton (Aug. 18), and Toby Keith (Aug. 26).

Other notable performers include Third Eye Blind (July 5), Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and The Cult (Aug. 1), Steely Dan (Oct. 13), and Kid Rock (Oct. 19, 20).

Comedians will also grace the stage. Howie Mandel (July 3, 4), Jon Lovitz (July 5), and Amy Schumer (Sept. 1) are some of the names that will keep guests laughing when the music’s off.

Public Response

Readers on local internet news sites such as NJ.com and The Press of Atlantic City seem rather positive regarding the Hard Rock Atlantic City opening announcement.

Many opined that MGM Resorts and Caesars should be concerned. The companies’ Marina District casinos Borgata and Harrah’s were respectively number one and two in land-based casino win last year, with the properties accounting for 46 percent of Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar gross gaming revenue.

“Hard Rock will be successful and bring people to AC. It’s a win-win for Jersey,” one commenter opined.

Others, however, feel the music lineup is lacking. “Acts are washed up” and “no variety” were common themes. And many criticized the most notable absent artist, New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.

Allen says patience. “It’s a great start. But, certainly, we look forward to continuing to book more acts and even larger acts. There’s some amazing acts on that list, but I think the best is yet to come,” the CEO concluded.