ATLANTIC CITY - A three-day Dave Matthews Band festival at Bader Field is expected to generate $50 million to $70 million in revenue to the resort, city officials said Wednesday at a press conference inside Boardwalk Hall to officially announce the event.
The Grammy Award-winning band will headline each of the festival's three days -- June 24, 25, 26 -- along with at least 27 other bands throughout the festival, including O.A.R, The Flaming Lips, Damian Marley and David Gray.
Band management, festival producers and city officials said the weekend is expected to draw a capacity 75,000 people each day; spectators will be required to buy 3-day packages starting at $195, with VIP packages priced at $825. One-day tickets likely will not be sold, officials said.
"This event is sure to bring national and international recognition to Atlantic City as an entertainment venue," said Maureen Siman, vice president of marketing for the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority.
Siman said the authority is conservatively projecting an economic impact of $50 million from the event, based partly on the 20,000 room nights _ or slightly less than 7,000 rooms per night _ that area casinos and hotels have dedicated to the event. Gary Musich, vice president of sales for the ACCVA, said the authority crafted its estimate based on a typical convention model, which includes spending for shopping, eating, etc.
However, Joseph Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber, said his organization is anticipating about $70 million after factoring in other revenue outlets, such as the potential revenue expected to be collected by various vendors at the festival. Musich said vendors could not be included in their estimates.
Dubbed the Dave Matthews Caravan, the Atlantic City concert will be the first of four DMB festivals to take place this year throughout the country celebrating the band's 20th anniversary.
Ken MacDonald, a representative of Starr Hill Presents, the concert's promoter, said choosing Atlantic City as the caravan's first venue was an easy decision. He noted the city's close proximity to other major cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
"That's only going to make us have a greater chance for success," he said.
Three stages will feature at least 28 bands each day. Other performers scheduled to appear include Dr. Dog, Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, Bassnectar, Thievery Corporation, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Warren Haynes Band, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Guster and others. Plus, DMB members Carter Beauford and Stefan Lessard will offer solo performances, and Matthews will team up with longtime collaborator Tim Reynolds for an acoustic set.
MacDonald said there may be more bands added to the setlist, including the potential for local bands to play.
Organizers said concert-goers will not be allowed to camp or stay overnight at the field, despite the fact that the same 75,000 people will be ticketholders for all three days under the current ticketing structure. The camping prohibition is part of an effort to stimulate the area's economy by forcing attendees to choose lodging in the Atlantic City and Atlantic County area.
The event also marks the first time Bader Field, a closed municipal airport, will be used as a concert venue. Mayor Lorenzo Langford said he hopes it is not the last.
"We wanted to commit to a one-year contract with the hope that we can secure a long-range partnership," Langford said Wednesday, adding that the city is still pursuing deals to develop Bader Field, but hoping to take advantage of alternative uses at the site in the meantime. "I'm very optimistic and very confident that we'll be back at the table, probably the Monday morning after the (concert) weekend, sitting down to ink a long-term deal."
The mayor said the event will likely cost city taxpayers about $200,000, a figure mostly based on public safety and public works expenses, with the expectation that those costs will be covered by revenue the city will collect from the event. Langford said the city took a conservative approach to the event, hoping to simply garner enough revenue to clear its expenses. After the inaugural Bader Field event is complete, the mayor said the city will look to capitalize on potential concert revenue for future performances.
Meanwhile, preparations for the concert are already underway.
Employees from the city's Public Works Department have been clearing debris and removed some structures at the former airport, including its control tower. The Atlantic City Fire Department also performed a controlled burn at the site to clear brush.
City workers and contracters will also be working to repair Sandcastle Stadium, the fomer home of the now-defunct Atlantic City Surf baseball team. The park, MacDonald said, will be used as an area for VIP attendees and will likely feature food, beverages, activities and a large screen to view the Bader Field performances.
Since the Surf folded in early 2009, the park has gone relatively unmanaged or maintained, leaving it open for vandalism and significant decay. City Council recently reappropriated $300,000 to replenish the stadium and is scheduled to vote on multiple requests for proposals from area companies to perform some of the work.
Kelly added Wednesday's announcement of the Bader Field concert as another bullet on the list of recent positive developments for a city racked by the national economic downturn.
"I hope people are feeling the momentum that we're feeling at the Chamber," he said, citing the restart of construction at the Revel casino site and plans for the Golden Nugget casino franchise to come to town as other good signs for the city. "The Dave Matthews Caravan will continue that momentum."
Tickets will go on sale for DMB's fan club - Warehouse - on Monday, followed by a public sale March 25. A CitiCard member presale will occur March 21.