Will Hard Rock Atlantic City Rock The Boardwalk Back To Life?
It’s hard to believe its been almost 4 years since my last foray to Atlantic City. The wonderful winter unfolded into resort hopping, and much like Las Vegas in the winter, a mix of relic casinos, arcane history lessons in where it went wrong, things shiny and new that were much more turbulent under their glossy surface, and a few steady rocks scattered about the Boardwalk and Marina district keeping anchor while the rest of the gaming economy was eroding into the ocean metaphorically.
That depressing news out of the way, it is a wonderful snippet to hear that a major casino brand of any kind is interested in opening a new (for all intents and purposes after the kind of strip down required) resort in Atlantic City. And all the more its on the Boardwalk!!! (Yes, taffy and gambling-BOOM!) It all probably started thanks to two things…45’s (I refer to him that way, judge me not) failure to hold onto what should be an easy money making operation and the still operational Hard Rock Cafe in the former Trump Taj Mahal, a hotel with bones strong but, much like the Atlantic Club (RIP) with it’s Wynn DNA, much in need of some tender, loving, care. With the brand already successfully operating a signature Cafe in the shuttered resort, and the money ready for investing, the synergy happened and the result has been announced formally to the world as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City.
On paper, there’s lots to be excited about. Numbers wise it’s brilliant for gaming, hotel, public space, dining….pretty much everything that a successful resort needs. But that’s just what’s on paper, the bigger things are much more about the history of what’s been going on along that iconic stretch of planked oceanfront.
Over the last few years, the closures have been staggering. Starting with Revel, which was doomed from the beginning due to mismanagement despite it being one of the best resort stays I’ve ever had (likely because I, and oddly baccarat_guy were there at the same time taking up most of the amenities). From there a shockwave went out, and although the same resorts in the Marina that always do well kept up, the boardwalk took a beating. Revel languished, almost became a religious university for East Coast Scientologistics* and finally has been said to be reopening as Ten. Movement on that….zero. In the meantime more and more resorts closed, until someone decided to plug the hole in the dike.
Related: In Memoriam: The Revel Ocean Suite
Now the real question is, will the Hard Rock pull a Revel or not survive for other reasons. Both are very valid questions in the rocky economy that is AC. Gamblers who still travel there are fickle. They’ve become spoiled by Borgata while their other favorite resorts close around them. But this could be different. This could be the tipping point AC needs. And the reason, oddly and easily enough, is branding.
Say for a moment Revel had opened as MGM Atlantic City, a partnership resort bringing not only the MGM name but all that comes with a properly operated gaming operation in a top notch property. Would it have crashed and burned like Revel. Doubtful, but possible nonetheless.
It only makes sense then that a brand like Hard Rock would fit in perfectly. And they have examples all over the country at this point. From Tulsa, Oklahoma to Florida, to Vegas, and even in hotels alone, Hard Rock has carved out a niche that thrives in any environment. Pair it with beachfront property, a hotel ripe for salvage and transformation, and an anchor to promote itself during and the result could be the first success Atlantic City has seen in far too many years.
Personally, I am keeping my fingers crossed. Hard Rock Atlantic City is just what the Boardwalk needs, a punch in the gut to wake the masses up to the insane potential that is being lost due to the “resortization” of the Marina. As much as I love the Borgata, this time I’m rooting for the little guy. Well ok, the bigger than little guy. I can’t wait to see what becomes and hope this is just the start of the revitalization of a town that has gambling roots that are as deep as any in the world.
* – Not a real religion, I think.