At a press conference Wednesday morning, Hard Rock chairman Jim Allen announced that June 28 will mark the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, the much-anticipated replacement to the Trump Taj Mahal. In addition to the ribbon cutting, Allen also forecasted an ambitious slate of 300 live shows in the sprawling complex’s first year in operation.
Addressing a live audience at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square, Allen showcased visual renderings of the complex’s sleek, faux minaret-free look, and shared details of its $500 million redesign. In addition to 3,500 revamped hotel rooms, the complex will include a state-of-the-art casino (with all marble floors, not carpet), 20 restaurants, and two theaters—the newly expanded, 7,000-seat Hard Rock Live at the Etess Arena and a 2,000-seat arena that has rarely been used in the structure’s nearly 30-year history. In keeping with the Hard Rock’s high-wattage, rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, the brand new façade will feature an 80-foot guitar and an LED light show.
The project is the latest in a wave of revitalization currently washing over Atlantic City. The Hard Rock’s pledged summer opening will be closely followed by another new casino taking up residence in a once-vacant tower—the Ocean Resort Casino Atlantic City, opening in July in the former site of the Revel. But with ambitious lineup of summer concerts by the likes of Florida Georgia Line, Steely Dan and Rascal Flatts, and its sprawling dining portfolio, the Hard Rock is sure to be in a league all its own.
While the gambling capital may be more known for its boxing matches and comedy sets than its concerts, Hard Rock Atlantic City’s star-studded lineup promises to bring some of the biggest stadium-filling acts around to the Jersey Shore. In addition to 1,000 additional seats, the remodeled Etess Arena will be equipped with an all-new sound system and acoustics—infrastructure necessary for Hard Rock’s nearly nightly musical programming.
“Most casinos in Atlantic City only offer entertainment on Saturday nights, and not every Saturday night,” says Allen. “We’ve taken a completely different approach.” Rounding out country superstars like Blake Shelton and Toby Keith will be arena rockers like Bush and Stone Temple Pilots as well as headlining comedy acts like Amy Schumer.
Sitting on 17 acres of the Atlantic City strip, the 4 million square-foot, $1.2 billion structure formerly known as Trump Taj Mahal was the most expensive casino ever built when it opened in 1990. A symbol of outsize opulence over the course of the city’s ups and downs, the original casino finally shuttered in 2016. And while it may sit on one of the most storied sites on the strip, the new Hard Rock campus is sure to offer a much-needed adrenaline rush of rock history and modern-day entertainment culture. Besides displaying a portion of the Hard Rock’s sprawling collection of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia—the largest collection of its kind in the world—the casino will also house a branch of the Instagram-friendly franchise Sugar Factory, and in the fall will host the Broadway hit Kinky Boots.
All of it adds up, according to Allen, to a recipe for long-term success. “Nobody disputed that in 1990 when the Trump Taj Mahal opened that it was the 8th wonder of the world,” he said. “So when we sat down [for this project] we knew this was something that this was something that was built to last a long time.”
Main image: Jim Allen, CEO Hard Rock International