Attendance reached nearly 174,000 people at June’s Phish and Metallica concerts at Bader Field in Atlantic City, box office reports released Friday to The Press of Atlantic City show.
That equates to an average daily attendance of 34,762 people, versus the 24,000 fans who attended each day of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan stop at Bader in June 2011.
Phish sold 58,990 tickets total for performances June 15 to 17, and Metallica’s Orion Music + More Festival sold 23,571 for shows June 22 and 23. Many of the tickets sold were for multiple shows.
Starr Hill Presents, the promoter behind all three events, reserved Bader and signed a contract with the local government for two more multiday concerts in September. The company had not yet confirmed performers for those dates but scrapped plans after the state Department of Treasury stopped giving waivers for the luxury tax previously granted to vendors including Starr Hill.
Starr Hill Director of Venue Development Ken MacDonald declined comment on the company’s future plans in Atlantic City.
Regardless, its concerts at Bader helped boost the profile of the 143-acre former municipal airfield as a prime spot to hold music festivals.
“I had no expectations, but I’m glad Bader Field is established as a viable concert venue,” Mayor Lorenzo Langford said.
Despite the successes, the city has not started planning events with other major promotion companies, Langford said.
In the meantime, the city is still negotiating final payment with Starr Hill. The company already paid the municipality more than $296,648 to offset costs to prep the field, pay extra police, fire, emergency management and other personnel during the events, and other expenses incurred by playing host.
The municipality also gets a portion of ticket sales. Although contracts set the revenue-sharing formula, the promoter and local government officials differ on their interpretations of it, resulting in a discrepancy over what city revenue and finance director Michael Stinson described as a small amount of money.
Annual revenue generated by the luxury tax — 3 percent alcohol sold by the drink and 9 percent on hotel rooms, cover charges and other entertainment purchases in Atlantic City — grew from $15 million in 1997 to $31 million in 2011. It pays off loans taken to help pay for the $268 million it cost to build the Atlantic City Convention Center and upgrade Boardwalk Hall 15 years ago.
State Treasury officials said previously that they’ve waived the tax for promoters in the past, but inconsistencies in the way the tax has been handled prompted them to stop doing so recently. Some issues were caught by an audit.
The state refused to release that audit to The Press of Atlantic City in response to an Open Public Records Act request filed June 12. The request also sought the luxury-tax waiver agreements themselves and related documents. Access to those records was denied, too.
Langford said the local government never considered subsidizing the tax on behalf of Starr Hill, then declined further comment on the “state matter.”
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