“We’re not in the mindset of re-carpeting and putting some memorabilia on the walls; we thought it was very important to either present a product that was going to be brand new, or to not do it at all,” Hard Rock International chairman Jim Allen says of the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, which opens June 28 in some prime oceanfront real estate on the Atlantic City boardwalk. The new venue—the result of a $500 million investment—includes 3,500 revamped hotel rooms, a state-of-the-art casino, 20 restaurants and two theaters, including the Mark G. Etess Arena which was expanded to include over 7,000 seats. And of course, there’s an 80-foot guitar adorning the brand new façade.
In addition to announcing the property’s opening date, Hard Rock also released its initial entertainment lineup—putting 60 shows on sale simultaneously. “Ticketmaster told us that in their history, that’s never been done before,” says Allen of the schedule that includes Carrie Underwood, Maroon 5 and Florida Georgia Line, as well as other types of entertainment such as the Broadway hit Kinky Boots in the fall and comedy by Amy Schumer and Jon Lovitz. “Music is important, but we’re also doing a whole Broadway show series and we will be hosting the first world-championship boxing fight that will be televised on HBO,” says Allen. “We have a very eclectic and hopefully exciting program. Combine that with world-class dining and the aspect of the casino entertainment, I think there is a new level of interest to come see the resort.”
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City takes over the space vacated by the defunct Trump Taj Mahal Casino. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn acquired the property from Trump before the casino shut down in 2016 following profit losses of up to $350 million, making the Taj the fifth casino in Atlantic City to close that year. Attempts have been made to revive the former gambling and entertainment mecca with luxury resorts such as the Borgata Hotel & Casino, which is marking its 15th anniversary, and the Revel, which opened in 2012, closed just two years later and now is planning to reopen this year as the Ocean Resort Casino.
In 2017, Florida-based Hard Rock International took over the 4 million-square-foot Taj site. The company’s rock-and-roll spirit, an exciting entertainment roster of global superstars and unique on-site shopping experiences, like the fun Sugar Factory candy boutique, is setting the property up for long-term success. But it’s more than just creating a one-stop resort destination; Allen says that by investing in Atlantic City, it will hopefully encourage other properties to commit to building a thriving tourism industry around the Jersey Shore. With nearly 30 million people located within a three-hour drive from Atlantic City (including express bus service from Manhattan), a large audience is attainable if the quality is there. In addition, the Hard Rock will introduce 3,000 jobs back into Atlantic City.
Photography Courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City