Two of the world's biggest music acts will play Atlantic City this summer.
Metallica will headline a two-day festival at Bader Field on June 23 and 24, while Madonna follows up her much-buzzed-about Super Bowl performance with a stop at Boardwalk Hall on Sept. 15.
The summer shows announced Tuesday will appeal to a diverse group of music fans and will bring tens of thousands of concertgoers to the resort to “vogue” to the music of Madonna and bang their heads to the sounds of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
The September concert — presented by Caesars Atlantic City — will be the latest in what has become a regular stop on Madonna’s tour itinerary. She last performed in the resort in November 2008 as part of her Sticky & Sweet Tour.
“Madonna is a global icon and just performed one of the biggest concerts in the world on Sunday night at the Super Bowl. What a great way to announce her tour and that she will be in Atlantic City this September,” said Don Marrandino, Eastern Division President for Caesars Entertainment.
Metallica’s performance is unusual, as the band plays a number of shows in Europe each year but has limited engagements in the United States. The Atlantic City festival, dubbed the Orion Music + More festival, marks the only announced North American performance by the group this year.
Sean Patrick, afternoon host for rock radio station WMGM 103.7-FM, said the announcement is big for rock music fans who don’t have many opportunities to see Metallica.
“For them to bring a two-day festival to Atlantic City is huge. People will come from all over the place because they rarely do festivals over here,” he said. “The rest of the acts are really a variety of different types of rock, so you’re really going to get a lot of different people coming out.”
The Orion Music + More festival was announced in an online news conference hosted by the band, calling the festival an “unprecedented event.” Metallica never before has hosted its own festival and hand-selected the other 22 acts scheduled to perform.
“We wanted (the) biggest space possible because we don’t know what’s really going to happen there at the end of the day,” singer James Hetfield said.
The metal band founded in 1981 plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its “Black Album” by playing all of the record’s songs in one night for the first time in the U.S. The other night, the band will perform its entire 1984 album “Ride the Lightning,” also a first for the band.
Atlantic City was a prime location for the event because it is central to other major cities and could draw concertgoers from Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C., band members said.
“There’s hotels, there’s casinos, there’s beaches,” guitarist Kirk Hammett said. “There’s all sorts of things to do.”
Other bands scheduled to perform on at least three stages set up for the festival include Arctic Monkeys, Modest Mouse and the Gaslight Anthem. The band said it plans to host other nonmusic activities showcasing the band’s interests during the festival, but details have not been released.
The news conference was streamed live through the band’s website. City officials did not take part in the announcement.
Upon announcing that the concert would take place at Bader Field, band members seemingly joked about the venue lacking name recognition.
“I believe it’s an abandoned airport that’s right in the middle of Atlantic City,” drummer Lars Ulrich said.
Bader Field is a 142-acre former municipal airport, which is still owned by the city. The field, located on the Black Horse Pike in the Chelsea Heights section of the city, hosted the three-day Dave Matthews Band Caravan festival last summer that drew more than 72,000 people and demonstrated the site could be a successful concert venue.
Metallica is the first confirmed headliner for the four festivals Atlantic City Council has approved for Bader Field this year. The other events are slated for June 15-17, Sept. 22-23 and Sept. 29-30.
A resolution approved by City Council in December listed June 24 and 25 as dates for one of the festivals. However, a legal contract finalized after the vote lists June 23 and 24 as approved days for the festival. Ken MacDonald, director of venue development for festival promoter Starr Hill Presents, confirmed the June 23 and 24 dates, but did not reply to additional questions Tuesday night.
Starr Hill has agreed to pay the city $80,000 per day, including a $30,000 rental fee and $50,000 for increased presence of police officers, firefighters and others needed for crowd control.
The Madonna 2012 World Tour begins May 29 in Tel Aviv, Israel, according to Live Nation Entertainment, which is promoting the entire tour. The North American part of the tour will begin Aug. 28 at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center. The singer also will perform Sept. 6 at Yankee Stadium in New York. Her tour is expected to wrap in Miami in November.
“It’s concerts of this magnitude that we need to work on bringing into Atlantic City — it’s how we continue to position ourselves as the East Coast’s top entertainment destination,” Marrandino said. “Caesars Entertainment is committed to bringing concerts and events of this size to Atlantic City. We all benefit from the thousands of fans who will choose to visit our destination during that weekend, and we look forward to another incredible concert by Madonna.”
Caesars brought Madonna on July 16, 2006, to Boardwalk Hall for her Atlantic City debut. It presented her again in November 2008.
With ticket prices ranging from $80 to $355, Greg Tesone, general manager of Boardwalk Hall, expects the upcoming concert to sell just as fast as her two previous hall shows, and tickets to those performances went quickly. He also said he expects Madonna, 53, to be among the highest-grossing events in the hall this year, no matter what else is booked.
“Coming off the Super Bowl show, that’s a great way to announce your tour,” Tesone said.
Madonna is hitting the road to promote her new album, “MDNA,” which will be released March 26. Madonna performed the album’s first single, “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., as well as some of her biggest hits during the Super Bowl halftime show Sunday.
Staff writer Scott Cronick contributed to this report.
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