ATLANTIC CITY - Bader Field will be filled with money makers next month: The musicians performing with the Dave Matthews Band Caravan, the three-day concert's promoters and various vendors all stand to get a solid payday.
Possibly the only party that could end up losing money in the deal, which is expected to bring 75,000 spectators to town each of the event's three days, is the one that put it all together: Atlantic City's municipal government.
A copy of the contract to bring the Grammy Award-winning band here, along with nearly 30 other acts, shows the city is charging the concert promoters a $210,000 fee, which likely won't cover the expenditures the city must make to prepare the former municipal airport for the festival. Those expenditures include a massive cleanup effort, repairing an ailing baseball field and providing increased public safety personnel.
Mayor Lorenzo Langford has avoided discussing specific revenue figures but has said from the start he never intended to turn the event into a cash cow for local government. Instead, he hoped to get the deal done to establish a partnership with the promoters, gauge the event's success and stimulate the resort's economy for a weekend.
"We just wanted to cover costs and see how it works," he said. "Then we can look to generate more money for the city if we do it again."
Spiking the resort's economy appears imminent. The Atlantic City Convention and Visitor's Authority and the Atlantic City Chamber believe the event will generate between $50 million and $70 million in revenue for the resort's businesses.
But the condition of the site, the event's inclusion of the Sandcastle Stadium and the additional police personnel assigned for the festival has some, including City Council members, saying that the city's government should have sought a better deal for itself with the event's promoters.
Considerable work - and money - has gone into restoring the city's battered Sandcastle. The park, virtually abandoned and neglected after the Atlantic City Surf baseball team ceased operations in 2009, is scheduled to be used during the concert as a VIP area for special ticketholders. The stadium will also be the site of the Atlantic City Summer Fest, a music concert featuring rapper Rick Ross on July 2.
Public Works Director Paul Jerkins said about $260,000 has already been spent on repairing the facility's fire-suppression system and plumbing, and rejuvenating the field itself.
In February, City Council approved $300,000 in city bond money to improve the ballpark as a suitable venue for concerts, sporting events and other entertainment this summer. City Councilman Frank Gilliam, head of the city's Planning and Development Committee, said the efforts to restore the stadium came before the Dave Matthews Band festival was proposed, but he did say he expected the city to better benefit financially from the event.
"I think it would have made sense for us to actually try to get as much as we possibly could for a concert of that magnitude," he said. "I would think we would try to bargain a little better than that. However, it is the first time. Hopefully, we can create a template and make this an annual thing and maybe do better next time."
City Solicitor G. Bruce Ward, who led the city's contract negotiations, said officials followed a strategy to ensure the event was held and that it will benefit the area.
"The whole notion was not to, on a first event like this, not to charge too much," he said. "We were trying to make a benefit happen for the city in terms of tourism, additional employment, that kind of thing."
Ward said officials at the Atlantic City Chamber, who initially connected the city with the concert's promoters, urged the city to get the deal done and not be too concerned with local government revenue. Chamber President Joseph Kelly confirmed that the organization encouraged the city to keep fees to a minimum.
"The key is to keep it competitive," Kelly said. "As we go after these opportunities, we understand it's competitive, and we have to work to make ourselves competitive."
Kelly said the chamber did not make any specific pricing suggestions and said the pricing could be different if another similar event is held at Bader Field in the future.
"Then, you have a history," he said. "Then you have to go through the numbers, and you match the numbers with experience and look to come up with something again."
Ward also said the expenses for restoring the baseball stadium should not be included because plans to fix up the facility were solid before the concert was announced.
"We wanted to do the stadium anyway," Ward said. "There's no relationship between the Dave Matthews Band revenue and the repairs to the stadium."
However, City Council passed a resolution to dedicate $300,000 to the stadium's repairs on Feb. 9. Negotiations had begun the month before and the contract was not finalized until late February.
Public safety expenses
Promoters also inserted language in the contract outlining certain public safety requirements that could cost the city.
The contract requires the city to provide 20 police officers patrolling the premises and 17 officers coordinating traffic throughout the three-day festival, which will last about 12 hours each day. Patrols are also required to include three additional supervisors and two commanders. Traffic control must also have two supervisors present.
Specific officers have yet to be assigned, but if the officers work the event on overtime, police personnel alone could cost nearly $84,000, based on the average pay rate of a police officer. Those numbers are according to payroll figures dated March 29.
Deputy Chief Ernest Jubilee, who has been part of weekly meetings regarding the event, said the 12-hour daily concert schedule obviously dictates having more than one shift assigned to it.
"If you're asking whether there's going to be overtime, probably," he said. "How much? I don't know."
But Jubilee also disregarded the binding police personnel requirements within the contract.
"The agreement between the city and promoter is between the city and the promoter," Jubilee said. "It doesn't affect the policing plan for the event."
Lt. Col. Tom Gilbert, commander of the Tourism District, said the law-enforcement entities are working together and have been in constant dialogue with the promoters. He said authorities have yet to finalize deployment numbers, adding that they may not be released even when the assignments are made for safety reasons. He referred cost questions to the city.
Atlantic City's emergency services coordinator, Tom Foley, is leading the public safety arrangements for the concert. Although particulars are still being worked out, he expected the costs to the city to be minimal. He noted that the city will save a lot of money through the assistance of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, which will be supplying cooling tents and a mobile hospital at the site.
"We're going to provide two city ambulances, so there won't be any real cost there," he said.
The city will also assign at least one fire-suppression unit to the grounds, which consists of four firefighters.
"That will be an expense," said Fire Chief Dennis Brooks, who estimated the unit would cost about $5,000 per day, or $15,000 total. "I don't anticipate our costs being a whole lot, but we're still working all of that out. I'm trying to keep it down to a minimum."
Staff writer Lynda Cohen contributed to this report.
Contact Michael Clark: