November 28, 2016
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — When the new year arrives in Atlantic City, the eyes of the nation will be elsewhere.
An anticipated big-name concert at Boardwalk Hall that was to be featured in ABC's national New Year's Eve broadcast won't happen.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority says the show, which had been envisioned as part of the agency's $11.9 million deal to keep the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, could not be finalized due to scheduling and financial concerns.
The agency's deputy executive director, Chris Howard, said the kind of A-list entertainers it wanted for Atlantic City weren't available.
"The big-name artists we were looking for — we didn't want some small opening act, we wanted a true difference-maker — they're typically not on tour this time of year," he said. "The cost associated with bringing that kind of act when they're not on tour was prohibitive compared to what we were anticipating."
Live Nation, the nationwide concert promoter that was to book the show, declined to comment, referring inquiries back to the casino agency.
It's the latest embarrassing slight to Atlantic City, which can't seem to catch even a small break.
Earlier this month, Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration took over Atlantic City's assets and major decision-making power, determining that the seaside resort, struggling with a half-billion dollars in debt, was unwilling or incapable of making the difficult choices needed to get its finances in order.
Five of the city's 12 casinos have shut down in the last two years, including the most recent, the Trump Taj Mahal on Oct. 10. Real estate mogul Donald Trump, who's now the Republican president-elect, built it in 1990, but his friend and fellow billionaire Carl Icahn closed it after a lengthy labor dispute with its main union.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority collects state-mandated casino payments and approves them for redevelopment projects designed to improve the city.
In February, it signed a contract with the Miss America Organization to keep the pageant in the city for the next three years. As part of that deal, Dick Clark Productions was to feature an Atlantic City show on its "New Year's Rockin' Eve" broadcast for the next three years. Dick Clark Productions is the broadcast production partner of the Miss America pageant, and its willingness to tout Atlantic City was seen as a sweetener to the deal to renew the pageant's run in the city.
"It was very important to us that Miss America and Dick Clark promote Atlantic City as a destination resort," the development authority's executive director, John Palmieri, said at the time.
But with no big-name show happening in the resort, that won't be happening. And most of the casinos have not announced headline entertainers for New Year's Eve, opting instead for parties and in-house entertainment. Resorts Casino Hotel is hosting The Spinners, the 1970s R&B group, not exactly the demographic ABC is looking for in a national broadcast.
Howard said Dick Clark Productions is not to blame for the absence of a show, adding the development authority is looking to offer a similarly big concert as soon as possible next year. He also held out the possibility Atlantic City could be publicized during the broadcast.
Publicists for Dick Clark Productions did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.
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