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Wildwood vs Atlantic City. Who Has Better Concert Deal?

LISTEN > ACprimetime Radio & tracks the Re-invention of Atlantic City. Sometimes we take a look at our coastal neighbors along the South Jersey shore. Some towns compete with each other, some are in the same boat as AC, some are directly affected by what happens in AC. Ventnor, Margate, Ocean City…..and even way down there in Wildwood…. a community that never got fat n happy….and lazy…..relying on casino gaming cash flow…. like Atlantic City did.

tim mcgraw wildwood Atlantic city beach concert
Wildwood…. the Beach Concert King?

Could Wildwood leap frog Atlantic City as the Summertime beach concert king? Wildwood in now in direct competition .. more than ever… with Atlantic City for the most popular shows.

Compare the Wildwood promoter concert deal… with the concert deal that AC puts together with their promoter; Live Nation.

In Wildwood, the concert promoter ponies up the cash to produce the show and guarantees it won’t be a money loser.

In Atlantic City, the concert promoter collects all kinds of big money upfront. The city then has to climb out of the hole.

Deal Atlantic City did with their concert promoter. Yuk.

Some say the 2016 Atlantic City beach concerts season was disappointing. No kidding. Late announcements, too early & wrong announcements by the Mayor (Toby Keith), questionable ticket sales for Jimmy Buffett, free tix giveaways to fill the beach, lack-luster shows….like Blink-182. No re-entry privileges for those who bought a ticket….meaning…concert goers can’t buy stuff on the Boardwalk. Geez. Boosting local business was the main reason for having these beach concerts.

But look at Wildwood. What a comeback they’ve made over the years. We LOVED Wildwood in the late 70s, 80’s & 90’s. But by the year 2000….we avoided it like the plague. Wildwood was run down. It was kinda creepy on the boardwalk back then. But boy, how times have changed. Wildwood got it’s act together.

Wildwood had, and still has big challenges….a monstrous and always growing beach…and a much longer drive…with stop & go traffic from Philly, NY & North Jersey. Instead of moaning, they invested in their Convention Center and year round events. WW embraced their cool RETRO motels. They invested in the latest amusements & thrill rides. See: Morey’s Pier.

Kenny Chesney did a Wildwood beach concert in 2012, Tim McGraw performed during the July 4 weekend this past summer.

Wildwood has a history of big name concerts….back in the 70’s: Elton John, Alice Cooper, David Cassidy, Black Sabbath, Cinderella and Kiss.

Recently, BEACH GLOW; a DJ focused festival, attracted thousands to Wildwood. But did you know…Atlantic City cancelled a BEACH GLOW event this past summer. Our best guess is that Caesars / Ballys didn’t want all those millennials….in front of their buildings on the beach. Maybe the 20 & 30 somethings would be dancing, drinking, eating….on the beach all day & night…..and NOT playing blackjack or slot machines inside of Caesars?

Wildwood doing deal with concert promoter; Beach Ball LLC. Atlantic City watches in amazement.

They’ll bring at least three beach concerts to Wildwood each of the next 3 summers. Most will be country and rock performers. They draw the biggest crowds. Attendance for each concert could be 30,000 to 70,000.

Beach Ball LLC will:

  • Finance the concerts. Providing upfront money
  • Handle sales of alcohol
  • Pay Wildwood $20,000 for each concert
  • Pay Wildwood $1 for each ticket sold
  • Pay for all municipal services, police and cleanup
  • Guarantee at least 5,000 tickets sold for each concert

Live Nation prohibits performers who play Atlantic City from also doing concert within 90 miles in next 90 days. 

  • PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ
  • Susquehanna Bank Center / BB&T Pavilion in Camden
  • All Philly Venues

Why does Wildwood have all this beach concert momentum? Atlantic City should be kicking a$$ in this category.

AC is closer to North Jersey, NYC and Philadelphia. It has plenty of hotel rooms. During big events…getting a room in or around Wildwood is NOT easy.

Just getting to WW can be a pain. There’s no reliable public transportation to and from Wildwood… like there for AC.

Wildwood seems to have a more business friendly atmosphere, AC needs to get MUCH better in this area.

AC has the infrastructure to support major events….like outdoor concerts & festivals.

The CRDA; Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, recently cancelled their ‘spot’…their opportunity to have Atlantic City seen by 59 million TV viewers on the Dick Clark Rockin’ New Year’s Eve telecast.

This smart deal was part of the Miss America Pageant contract with Dick Clark productions. This TV exposure was a key reason why we did the Miss A deal with Dick Clark productions.

‘Scheduling conflicts & other considerations’ were to blame, said the CRDA. Some say Live Nation couldn’t find a band. Others say Live Nation didn’t even start looking for a band to play Boardwalk Hall on New Year’s Eve.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, a board member of the CRDA, had no idea why the NYE concert…and national TV exposure…..was cancelled.

Was money the issue? Maybe. But, supposedly there was about $600,000 of unused cash from the 2-cancelled beach concerts this past Summer.

A much bigger question: Why didn’t the millennial chasing Mayor….and CRDA…. execute Plan B…. do a ‘live shot’ from various casino nightclub DJ booths around the city.

Where Atlantic City NYE action is:

  • Haven at Golden Nugget
  • Premiere at Borgata
  • The Pool at Harrah’s
  • Boogie Nights at Tropicana

Thousands of 20 & 30 somethings packed into a visually over-the-top environment, lights, lasers, pretty girls, dancing, great music, excitement, insane smiles everywhere…. exactly what a millennial marketing plan should look like for Atlantic City. Just add a camera.

But no. An opportunity to show 59 million TV viewers a positive, exciting, fun, cool, bad ass, millennial-friendly side of Atlantic City… was declined.

Who are the tone-def execs making these decisions? Geez. No wonder there’s talk of a much needed ‘tweak’…or maybe a more substantial shake-up… of the CRDA brain trust.

Time to drain the swamp. Or in our case…the salt marsh…and make Atlantic City great again.


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  1. Nice job Mel on the comparison between AC and the Wildwood market.

    Little by little others keep chipping away at the city’s identity by doing things better, but our leaders continue to be slow to adapt.

  2. Does any of this surprise you?

    When I purchased and was in the process of renovating my AC home, several of the city inspectors who visited and approved my upgrades asked, “Why did you choose Atlantic City?” I told each I felt the place had great potential and with the opening of Revel things would turn around. All wished me well, but kind of chuckled and said, “I been here for X years, and nothing has changed.”

    Over five years later and after having lost over $100k on the property when I finally threw in the towel, I realize they were correct. Atlantic City will never change since its leaders seem content with mediocrity.

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