Six live entertainment and music events will be held at Bader Field between this summer and next that organizers say will highlight Atlantic City beyond the casinos.
City Council this month unanimously approved an agreement with Bobby Laws and Associates to host the shows, which are expected to last one to three days each. The city will be paid a $150,000 license fee and all city costs up to $30,000 per day, with the understanding that the costs not exceed that.
A city information booth will be present at each event, according to the contract, and at least four city food vendors will receive a preferred commission rate. The city will also provide input on other food and concessions to add "a local Atlantic City flavor and feel to the events."
"That's the whole idea, to promote Atlantic City from the other side of Atlantic City," said Laws, who had spent his adult life in the city. "Our goal is to save Atlantic City so it doesn't just fade into the ocean. There is competition, but none of those places has a beach, none of those places has a Boardwalk, none has venues like Bader Field or the Sandcastle Stadium."
The first show was originally planned for July 6, but delays have resulted in a firm date not being set.
Laws and partner Josh Heffler previously attracted 6,800 people to a sold-out New Year's dance party at Bader Field featuring DJ Steve Aoki, months after Hurricane Sandy and national media coverage of Atlantic City as broken and closed. He said they went from selling 1,000 to 1,500 tickets a week before the hurricane to nothing after.
"A lot of people thought Atlantic City was closed down completely," he said. "We live-streamed to 8 million viewers (through Aoki's website). It was really a good thing for it to happen that way."
They also had the confidence and support of Mayor Lorenzo Langford, Laws said. The mayor could not be reached for comment.
Laws promised next year's July 5 event will be even bigger, since the new contract goes through Aug. 30, 2014.
The group will have access to Bader Field by noon 48 hours before the event until noon the day after it ends. While the attendance expected will depend on the performers and other yet unknowns, the contract allows for as many as 75,000, unless an agreement is made to allow more.
Atlantic City will receive $2 per ticket and also will be given 25 tickets to each event to give to a charity of its choice. The organizers also agreed to work with the city to identify local nonprofit organizations that could provide staffing in exchange for a donation to the group.
The school district's Arts and Music Program will also get a donation, with the amount based on the profitability of each event.
Laws could not comment on possible acts as the group works to nail down contracts. But he said each will be different, with plans including a rock-themed event and another electronic event.
"We just want to do something different each time," Laws said. "We want to make sure everybody gets a taste of Bader Field and of Atlantic City."
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