By Cleve Bryan
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) – The soundtrack to Atlantic City’s evolution away from gambling dependence will have a honky-tonk kind of tune.
While the Trump Plaza, Showboat and Revel casinos all look at possible closures by early fall, a pair of free country concerts are a week away, which will try to draw huge crowds of infrequent visitors to the resort city.
“We spent a lot of time and money on our boardwalk, our beaches, on our landscaping, lights, paving, so we’re saying come back and kick the tires you’re going to be happy what you see,” says Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian.
Blake Shelton performs July 31st and Lady Antebellem on August 3, both on a stage currently being constructed on the north side of the Pier at Caesars.
The shows will have a viewing area on the beach for 60,000 ticket holders and tens of thousands more can see the shows from the boardwalk and on jumbo screens.
The “DO AC” tourism campaign was in Center City Philadelphia Wednesday giving out free tickets to the shows.
Promoters also stopped in Balitmore on July 16 and plan to be in New York City on Thursday with the clear mission to draw people to Atlantic City.
“We’re doing that to let everyone know that Atlantic City is alive and kicking,” says Nigel Richards from the DO AC team.
At the construction site for the Bass Pro Shop that will eventually open in Atlantic City and create new jobs, Mayor Guardian stood with state lawmakers Wednesday to talk about the city’s future.
Senator Jim Whelan, who represents Atlantic City, was in attendance after appealing this week to the Casino Control Commission to delay the closing of the casinos so more time can be used to find potential buyers.
Senate President Steve Sweeney plans to call a meeting in the next six weeks with business, labor and political leaders to discuss how Atlantic City will handle losing thousands of casino jobs.
He says one topic that will certainly be discussed is the possibility of expanding gambling in New Jersey outside of Atlantic City.
Sweeney has said a referendum could be on the 2015 ballot if a plan can be reached where significant revenues are channeled into Atlantic City from any casinos in other parts of the state.
“At the end of the day whether they support it or not I need smart people that understand these industries to give feedback to see what we can make Atlantic City,” says Sweeney.
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