At last week's Atlantic City Hotel Motel Association and Chamber of Commerce's Trade Show at Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, four chief executive officers - from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Harrah's Resort, Tropicana Casino and Resort, and Revel Entertainment Group - expressed their views about Atlantic City's present and future. I attended the meeting and found it quite interesting.
They agreed on the necessity of making Atlantic City clean and safe, as quickly as possible. All anxiously await Gov. Chris Christie's plan for gaming, entertainment and retail in Atlantic City. There was an expression of the necessity for the city to have diversity of thought. They stated money is available, but the investors who control it are uneasy about the city's inability to get things started in the right direction. The negative publicity that comes from the community is a factor in their minds. It was also noted the biggest problem was convincing investors of the potential of Atlantic City.
All the casino executives agreed there is a lack of funding for marketing. We are within a short drive of 47 million people. We need to appeal to them and let them know Atlantic City has a variety of exciting entertainment, outlet and high-end shopping, renowned restaurants, and the ocean, beach and Boardwalk. We must develop the means to broaden their experience in our marketplace. To do this, we need new products, and we must build for the future. Atlantic City needs to reinvent itself. It can and must be done.
We have seen the younger set coming to the new clubs that have been established during the past couple of years. Almost all of the night spots are doing good business. There is a diversity in their offerings and visitors enjoy them. It also must be noted the quality of entertainment being offered. As a side note from this writer, just look at this weekend and see there's something for just about every interest. This is helping to bring more people to our marketplace. We must also learn how to pair our experiences with our visitors. We need to cater to their interests and desires.
It was interesting to note that eight of the events in Boardwalk Hall sponsored by a casino, including concerts by Aerosmith and Black Eyed Peas, were sellouts. The more events we have, the more people will come to town.
We also need events such as the airshow to be held throughout the year. Our sister cities in Wildwood and Ocean City are masters at bringing a variety of exciting events - such as the Roar to the Shore Motorcycle Rally - that do not cost a lot of money, but yet bring many people to enjoy them.
One of our problems is we are constantly defending ourselves. We must be more positive in our approach and make people aware of our location, which provides us with the God-given ocean and beach and the man-made Boardwalk.
Strides have been taken to improve each of these. The ocean is the cleanest it has been in years. The city needs the proper equipment to make sure the beach is cleaned every night and there are sufficient trash cans. New lights will be installed on the Boardwalk shortly after the first of the year, benches are being refurbished, the Boardwalk is scrubbed on a regular basis and the restrooms will be completely renovated with new equipment and are being cleaned several times daily.
The people in the community and its environs must become cheerleaders for Atlantic City. We all need to realize as Atlantic City goes, so goes the rest of southern New Jersey. Good things are coming, and we need to take advantage of them by informing everyone there is a new, bright, interesting and exciting Atlantic City that has something available for just about everyone.
Phishheads will start coming into Atlantic City today and will not leave until Monday. What are they? They are the devoted, loyal followers of the rock band known as Phish. To my knowledge, Phish is the first band to perform in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall for three consecutive nights. We've had some acts who've played for two nights, but not three.
Phish is made up of four outstanding musicians from Vermont who perform around the country and no matter where they are, they sell out. Proof of this is for their first run of performances in Atlantic City, they sold out 39,000 tickets in less than a half hour. I have been told the $60 face value tickets are going for as much as $500 from scalpers for good seats.
The band's loyal fans range in age from teenagers and college students to baby boomers. They will come from all over the country to hear their beloved Phish perform. I've been hearing about this group for many years, but have never had the opportunity to see them. It looks like this will be the year to do so.
Phish is not your typical rock band that plays for an hour-plus and calls it a night. The band plays two sets, each lasting about 90 minutes. They will start a song and then improvise it in a different direction for anywhere from five to 20 minutes or more. An hour after the show, you can download the performance online. If you have a ticket to the show, you get a free download; otherwise, it's $10.
On Halloween night, Phish wears a musical costume, performing the music of another noted rock group such as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. That is what is making the Atlantic City concerts so special for fans. The Internet has been abuzz for months with Phishheads speculating what the band will cover for Halloween. Most who read this column know I have a seagull that flies around listening in to secret conversations and then relates the information it gathers to me. This time it was a magic mockingbird and it tells me Phish will cover an album of Led Zeppelin's Sunday evening. It'll be interesting to see if my bird is right or if I need a new bird. Personally, that's what I'm pulling for ... a little Zeppelin in Boardwalk Hall. They've flown helicopters in Boardwalk Hall, but never had Zeppelin in there.
(Pinky's Corner airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND-AM 1400. His TV show, "WMGM Presents Pinky," airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on WMGM-TV 40. Pinky's e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
We heartily welcome Phish and their Phishheads to an exciting weekend in Atlantic City. We know you like to stay up late, and I'm delighted to inform you Atlantic City is a 24-hour city. The Convention and Visitor's Authority's motto says Atlantic City is "Always Turned On." We are delighted to have you here.