The grand opening of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, officially scheduled for June 28, “will set the tone for a new era,” said Hard Rock International Chairman and CEO Jim Allen.
During a press event at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square on Wednesday, Allen also revealed a music lineup of more than 50 shows and events slated to take the stage at one of Hard Rock’s two music venues: the 7,000-seat Hard Rock Live at the Etess Arena and a smaller, 2,000-seat venue.
With a goal of more than 300 nights of live entertainment in its first year, the lineup already includes: Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Toby Keith, Third Eye Blind, Steely Dan, and Counting Crows. The day after it opens, Bruce Springsteen's drummer Max Weinberg will perform in the Hard Rock Cafe associated with the property.
“This is an entertainment facility, not just a casino," Allen told reporters. "It's not about, 'Come in, hit a buffet, play $50 on slot machines and then go home.' That's not what we're about."
Investing $500 million, the boardwalk resort has been completely reimagined from its former days as the Taj Mahal. Gone are the over-the-top decor and minarets, replaced with upscale finishes and rock-and-roll memorabilia. The Hard Rock will feature a Howie Mandel Comedy Club, 20 restaurants and bars, 2,000 guestrooms, 2,100 slot machines and 120 table games.
Hard Rock purchased the property from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, after he shut it down in 2016 following labor disputes, triggering a shift in the city that was once on the brink of bankruptcy. The city will also welcome the reopening of the former Revel casino, which was one of the five casinos that went out of business, when it opens its doors again this summer as the Ocean Resort Casino.
Atlantic City’s gaming market is now on the rebound. Casinos saw their gambling revenue increase in 2017 for the second year in a row, according to the state's Division of Gaming Enforcement.
“No one’s talking about Atlantic City going bankrupt anymore,” Allen said. “The question was, can Atlantic City take the next step? We were 100 percent convinced that it can.”