If nothing else, 2012 was a year of partnerships and coming together in the Atlantic City region.
If nothing else, 2012 was a year of partnerships and coming together in the Atlantic City region. While the media reported on declining casino revenues, Revel’s first year, Hurricane Sandy and a “destroyed” Boardwalk, the people and entities in the region came together, not only to dispel myths about Atlantic City, but also to make the city and area better for the future. From the CRDA and the ACA, the ACA and ACCVA, Mohegan Sun and Resorts, Stockton (and just about everyone), charity events for the Red Cross following Sandy and even the federal and local governments (minus the Langford-Christie saga that continues) were working together in new and exciting ways. Partnerships were forged this year that will have a lasting impact on Atlantic City and its environs. The year 2012 was also one of the busiest summers for casino concerts in history, while new entertainment options, casino offerings, non-gaming options and big-time festivals helped make the new ‘DO AC’ campaign an even more robust one. Here are some memories of 2012.
New in ’12
• Atlantic Club Casino Hotel – Feb. 7 – The former Atlantic City Hilton changes its name and introduces a new game plan geared towards locals.
• Revel – April 2 – Atlantic City’s newest and highly anticipated mega-resort destination begins taking reservations.
• Golden Nugget Grand Opening – April 26-29 – The new Nugget (once Trump Marina) holds a weekend of festivities to celebrate the close of its year-long renovation projects.
• Boogie Nights – May 4 – Retro nightclub kingpin Boogie Nights premieres at Tropicana.
• 52 Causeway – May 25 – Commuters rejoice at the fact that the Somers Point-Ocean City Bridge officially opens.
• Cirque Du Soleil: ‘Dralion’ – Aug. 29-Sept. 2 – The thrilling show debuts at Boardwalk Hall complete with world-class acrobats, gymnasts and musicians.
• Robert’s Steakhouse – Nov. 9 – Trump Taj Mahal’s glossy New York City transplant Robert’s makes its debut.
• Borgata’s New Rooms – July – The Borgata completes a $50 million renovation project on 1,500 rooms, including updated amenities.
1. Ron Wood – April 21 – A one-off U.S. concert, Wood’s first-ever solo show in the United States, smokes from start to finish at the Golden Nugget.
2. Beyoncé – May 25-28 – Beyoncé returns to the stage at the grand opening of Revel over Memorial Day Weekend. First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters are among those who attend one of the shows.
3. Phish – June 15-17 – American rock group Phish plays three consecutive shows at Bader Field.
4. Kenny Chesney – June 20 — Life’s a beach for Chesney who presents a free concert on the Wildwood beach.
5. Metallica Orion Music & More Festival – June 23-24 – Metallica takes its turn at transforming Bader Field into a high-energy music festival.
6. Kanye West – July 6-7 – Superstar Kanye West performs his first solo shows in Atlantic City at Revel.
7. Melissa Etheridge – Oct. 19 – Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge brings a gamut of emotions and a fierce rock attitude to Caesars’ stage.
8. Carrie Underwood – Nov. 9 – Underwood’s extravaganza, including a floating stage and hot rising star Hunter Hayes, draws fans hoping to forget Hurricane Sandy for a night at Boardwalk Hall. At the show, the pop star announces that she would be donating all proceeds from the concert to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.
9. Aerosmith – Nov. 23 – Thanksgiving weekend kicks off with Aerosmith’s rocking performance at Revel.
10. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, with Trey Anastasio – Dec. 6 – Neil Young does A.C. proud with a Superstorm Sandy benefit show at the Borgata Event Center.
‘DO AC’ Debuts
• Slogan Change – Jan. 19 – Atlantic City’s slogan ‘Always Turned On’ is officially turned off after eight years, and a new slogan — ‘DO AC’ — is in the works.
• NJ Tourism Conference – March 14 – At the conference, the Atlantic City Alliance (ACA) announces plans to re-brand and market Atlantic City anew with new advertising, entertainment, and other ventures. (Interview with Liza Cartmell from the ACA at the time)
• ‘DO AC’ – April 13 – The Atlantic City Alliance begins to promote non-gaming attractions in the city in hopes to lure more visitors to town this summer and beyond with the launch of the ‘DO AC’ campaign.
• ‘DO AC’ Campaign Sticks – July 5 –The ‘DO AC’ car-magnet giveaway, part of the Atlantic City Alliance’s marketing campaign to boost tourism, grows into a craze, with a large number of cars hauling the eye-catching magnets.
1. Beer Fest – March 29 – The seventh annual Celebration of the Suds at the Atlantic City Convention Center features an expanded lineup of Garden State-based craft brewers and bands.
2. Bayfest – April 28 – Somers Point’s long-standing annual Bayfest continues to attract residents and visitors with live musical bands, food vendors and more than 120 crafters.
3. AC Food & Wine Festival – July 26-29 – The sold-out annual event takes place across all four Caesars Entertainment resorts and features celebrity chef participants, namely, Anne Burrell, Robert Irvine, Paula Deen, Aaron Sanchez, Buddy Valastro and Andrew Zimmern.
4. AC Seafood Festival – Sept. 15-16 – The return of the festival (held at Bader Field) provides an ample footprint for the variety of multicultural restaurants, fisherman, and crafters.
5. Sweat AC – Sept. 21-23 – Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City teams up with some of the world’s most prominent names in health and fitness for the inaugural Sweat AC Festival.
Hurricane Sandy, Aftermath Benefits
• Obama & Christie visit Brigantine – Oct. 31 – President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie take an aerial tour of the damage in Atlantic City and the Jersey shore from Hurricane Sandy and make a stop in Brigantine to talk to local officials and residents.
• Revel Nightlife Relief – Nov. 9-11 – Electronic dance sensation Afrojack headlines a weekend event at HQ Nightclub’s in Revel as part of an effort to support Atlantic City locals and surrounding neighborhoods by donating all weekend ticket and door sales directly to the cause.
• Borgata Sandy Benefit Concert – Dec. 6 – Neil Young & Crazy Horse with Trey Anastasio perform a Benefit Concert for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts at Borgata.
• Caesars’ Operation Hat Trick – Nov. 24 – Flyers’ Scott Hartnell and Rangers’ Brad Richards are joined by other locked-out NHL players for a charity game at Boardwalk Hall, which raises $500,000 for the Red Cross.
• Re-DO AC Music Benefit – Nov. 16-18 – Dozens of bands take part in three-day music festival at Le Grand Fromage in Atlantic City benefiting two non-profit organizations in the area which were severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
• Savor for Sandy – Dec. 16 – Chef Chris Scarduzio’s Table 31 Restaurant, in a partnership with Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City chefs and The Star Group, hosts ‘Savor for Sandy,’ a special event which raises money for Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City employees affected by Hurricane Sandy.
• Revel preview opening – April 2 – The highly anticipated mega-resort destination begins accepting reservations for an eight-week preview featuring 1,800 guest rooms and a progressive schedule of select restaurant openings, gaming, performance spaces, spa, day life and nightlife amenities.
• Revel Grand Opening – May 25 – The official Memorial Day weekend Grand Opening of Revel features an unforgettable four-night run by superstar Beyoncé and a slew of celebrity sightings.
Dennis Gomes R.I.P.
Dennis Gomes, CEO and co-owner of Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel, died on Thursday, Feb. 23, of unconfirmed causes in Philadelphia at the age of 68. Gomes’ legacy in Atlantic City and the gaming universe is extraordinary. “My family and I are deeply shocked and saddened by Dennis’ untimely passing,” said Morris Bailey, Gomes’ Resorts partner. “Dennis was a man of integrity who embraced all who knew him with respect and love. We have not only lost a business partner who was an industry leader and visionary — we have lost a friend and family member. We are committed to continuing Dennis’ vision for Resorts and Atlantic City, and our success will be a tribute to his memory. Our thoughts and prayers are with Barbara, Aaron and the entire Gomes family.” Aside from bringing his vision and long-time gaming experience to Resorts, purchasing it in 2010, Gomes also was responsible for The Quarter at Tropicana, which kicked off (literally) a new era for Atlantic City. Gomes was a true trailblazer in both Las Vegas and Atlantic City. As a gaming investigator he was a legend in the business, with the Martin Scorsese film Casino based on his story involving busting the mob in Vegas. Nicholas F. Moles, vice president and general counsel for the casino, said upon learning of Gomes’ death: “Dennis was truly the most giving, gracious and kind-hearted human being. Everyone who knew him loved him. We are all blessed to have worked with him, to call him our friend and to be part of his family. We are devastated by this loss and our prayers are with the Gomes family during this time. We are committed to continuing Dennis’ vision for Resorts.”
10 More 2012 Happenings
1. Steel Pier Opens with New Owners — On Aug. 3, it is announced that Steel Pier Associates, LLC, has taken ownership of Atlantic City’s famed Steel Pier from Trump Entertainment Group, Inc. A staged, multi-million-dollar renovation project is underway through 2015.
2. LPGA Returns — On June 3, Stacy Lewis wins the ShopRite LPGA Classic at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. Lewis held the lead wire-to-wire, winning by four strokes over Katherine Hull and becoming the top-ranked American golfer on LPGA tour.
3. Boardwalk Empire Season 3 — On Saturday, Sept. 15, the HBO original series Boardwalk Empire Season Three debuts at Caesars. The on-air third-season premiere is shown on HBO the following night, Sunday, Sept. 16. Season Four is soon announced.
4. Atlantic City Rodeo — Held March 30-April 1 at Boardwalk Hall, the second annual rodeo draws exceptionally large crowds to see many of the nation’s top professional riders compete for $56,000 in prize money. Many of the casinos and community partners tie special rodeo-themed promotions and events into the three-day extravaganza.
5. Final Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament — Held March 9-11 at Boardwalk Hall, the 14-team, Division-1 tournament sees St. Bonaventure defeat Xavier 67-56 on March 11 for the 2012 A-10 title. Having taken place in Atlantic City for five years, the tournament transfers to Brooklyn in 2013.
6. Margaritaville @ Resorts — On Nov. 14 construction kicks off on the Jimmy Buffett-themed Margaritaville project at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. The project, which is expected to be completed by Memorial Day weekend 2013, includes a 16,000-square foot Landshark Bar & Grill, which will be located across from the casino.
7. ‘Artlantic’ Public Art Project — A dedication ceremony takes place Nov. 9 for the Boardwalk’s new multi-phase, five-year public art project ‘ARTLANTIC.’
8. Boardwalk Hall Light Shows — Boardwalk Hall debuts a sophisticated, 3-D light-projection show, “Duality,” that brought the Hall’s historic façade to life on July 4 and every night throughout the year. “Winter Sweet” is the seasonal replacement for the outdoor light show, which premieres on Dec. 1 and will run through March.
9. Atlantic City Air Show — For its 10th anniversary on Aug. 17, the Atlantic City Air Show moves from midweek to Friday and draws record crowds. Next year’s show is slated for Wed., June 26, 2013.
10. Somers Point Beach Concert Series — The Somers Point Beach Concert Series celebrates 20 years and hosts some of the best rock, blues, zydeco and New Orleans musicians on the planet for free Friday evenings during the summer. Performers include multi-award winning blues violinist Lionel Young, Commander Cody, and Walter Trout.
What were your favorite moments of 2012?
There was a lot to cheer about in Atlantic City in 2013, including the return of the Miss America Pageant following an eight-year absence, as well as the return of several festivals, which, in recent years, have helped make the city more than a casino destination.
The well-worn concept of brunch gets fully turned on its axis at a most hospitable locale hereabouts: the iconic Stockton Seaview Resort in Galloway Township, every Sunday afternoon.
Once the silver anniversary of the Somers Point Bayfest is in the books, mosey on over to Clancy’s By the Bay, where the live music will be in full swing until 1am.
New ownership plans an ambitious, but brief bill of fare, characterized as “distinctly American. A place where a lot of different things happen.”
“We must commit to continuing to create memories for future generations. I want this to be a smart, quick recovery, but a heartfelt one as well. I hope this is your mission too.”
The recently publicized statistics telling us there are still upwards of 30 percent of the population on the East Coast who think that the Boardwalk was completely ruined and that most casinos are still not fully operational means we have a lot of work to do.
The days after Christmas are typically busy ones for shoppers, who head out to the malls to redeem gift cards, secretly exchange holiday gifts, and raid the shelves for sale items.
No East Coast town does New Year’s Eve better than Atlantic City and its environs (yes, New York City, that includes you), so here are a few suggestions for those who have not yet gotten around to planning out their big night.
In 2013, let’s ask ourselves what we’re doing or not doing to contribute to the good, and what we’re doing or not doing to contribute to the bad.
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The ACA’s Liza Cartmell talks about the first year of the DO AC campaign and changing people’s perception about the resort.
In a perfect world, if the casinos had their way, the year would always end on a Friday or Saturday. It would never end on a Monday, as it does this year.
Headlining the countdown to midnight is famed electro house artist and DJ, Steve Aoki, who will be joined by Tommy Trash, Adventure Club, and David Solano.
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A look back at what happened in the Atlantic City area in 2011.
A look back at 2011 in the Atlantic City area in photographs.
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To my recollection, this is the first time in many, many years that this column appears on New Year's Day. It is easy to write about the past year, but more fun to contemplate what is going to happen...
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Eclipsing the Past
Windy City Rockers Visit Borgata
AC Retro Weekend
Sometimes, It's Banjo Time
Chops & Then Some