When the Atlantic City Alliance said there would be a special announcement Thursday for a free beach concert, the rumor mill boiled. Who would be big enough to draw hundreds of thousands of people to Atlantic City?

Paul McCartney? Billy Joel? U2? Taylor Swift? Bruuuuuce?

Well, it turned out to be none of the above, but on Thursday, July 31, the Atlantic City beach near Caesars Atlantic City will be inundated with cowboy hats and plenty of yee-haws when country star Blake Shelton offers a free concert. Atlantic City Alliance President Liza Cartmell said the concert will begin around 6 p.m.

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"We want to showcase our fabulous free beach," Cartmell said. "We believe there is something going on in Atlantic City every day. And our mission is to add events like this during the week. This makes it a truly spectacular summer for us."

Cartmell said conservative estimates for the premier viewing area of the beach, between The Pier Shops at Caesars and well beyond Bally's Atlantic City, are 60,000 people. However, since the concert will be held during low tide, that number can increase dramatically. In addition, large video screens and sound repeaters will be placed on both sides of The Pier so more fans can enjoy the experience, Cartmell said she hopes that as many as 200,000 people could attend.

The concert will not be held on the south side of The Pier Shops, which would be able to accommodate more people, because of equipment weight issues in regards to production. So video and sound will have to suffice.

Concertgoers on the premium viewing side must obtain free tickets.The ACA does not have a ticketing plan in place yet, but expects to have one secured within a few weeks, Cartmell said tickets will most likely be available at DOAC.com.

"We are issuing tickets to keep things in an orderly fashion," said Cartmell, adding that the "party" will also include a beer garden. Bally's Bikini Beach Bar, set in the middle of the viewing area, will operate as usual.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said the city needs more events such as the Shelton concert.

"It all makes sense because we have the restaurants, the beach and all of the services needed to support an event like this," he said. "We are a major destination and few beaches have the ability and size to do something like this, Thousands of people can stand in a field and watch concerts all over the country, but this is unique."

The Alliance, the marketing arm of Atlantic City casinos that has a $30 million annual budget, hopes the 37-year-old Shelton has enough swagger to draw the masses it needs to justify its investment, which, based on headliners of his stature, is significant. Cartmell, who stated the concert will be entirely funded by the ACA, said the cost of the free concert will exceed much more than $1 million, but said exact figures are and will remain confidential.

Shelton, who will embark on a summer tour that includes mostly arenas, outdoor amphitheaters and a stadium show at Wrigley Field in Chicago, is a household name among country fans and beyond.

The judge on NBC's "The Voice," who is married to fellow country star Miranda Lambert, has completed eight albums, including his latest, "Based On a True Story ...," which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and No, 1 on the country charts, was certified platinum and was the ninth-best-selling album of 2013.

Shelton has 15 No, 1 hits and is known for songs including "Austin," "The Baby," "Some Beach," a cover of Michael Buble's "Home," "She Wouldn't Be Gone," "Honey Bee," "Drink On It," as well as his latest smashes "Sure Be Cool If You Did," "Boys 'Round Here," "Mine Would Be You" and "Doin' What She Likes," his 11th consecutive No, 1 single, which is a genre record.

Live Nation, which produced the Beach Boys concert on the Atlantic City beach about 30 years ago that drew hundreds of thousands of people, will also produce the Shelton concert.

"Blake Shelton is one of the world's biggest performers among any genre," said Live Nation Regional President Geoff Gordon.

Cartmell said Shelton was high on their wish list. However, other names such as Bruno Mars were discussed.

"But routing just didn't work out," she said. "He was on the West Coast when we wanted to do this. Plus, country artists are more familiar with an outside setting. Some acts are actually nervous performing outdoors like this."

But the Atlantic City Alliance may not be done. Cartmell said they are working on more beach concerts, including one that can possibly happen this summer.

"There could be another one," she said, "We have been trying to have outdoor beach concerts since the inception of the Alliance, but we always wanted to make sure we had the right artist at the right time and the willingness to do so, All of this felt right and we want to continue more of this."

Guardian said he would like to see more beach concerts and massive events to draw more visitors.

"Just yesterday I met with the promoters who brought Metallica, Phish and Dave Matthews to Bader Field, and I told them I am excited to work with them to bring concerts to Bader Field, the beach or any other location in Atlantic City. We are a party town that needs out-of-the-box events, and I assured them our fees will be reasonable to make things happen. I am not optimistic it will come together for this year, but our plan is to have six major events at Bader Field in 2015.


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