By Matt Rivers

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) – Over 60,000 people turned out Sunday in Atlantic City for a free beach concert featuring country superstars Lady Antebellum.

Tourism officials hope that events like it will be a major part of the future of Atlantic City.

“As gaming revenues go down, people have this misperception isn’t filled, that hotels aren’t filled, that’s completely wrong,” said Jeff Guaracino, Chief Strategy Officer for the Atlantic City Alliance.

He said A.C. will become less about casinos and more about entertainment, nightlife, and high-end dining moving forward.

But there’s no doubt it’s a lot easier to draw crowds like those found Sunday for a free concert in early August then it is in the middle of December.

So the question inevitably becomes, how do you get all these people back here when the weather isn’t so nice?

Part of it is combating the narrative that Atlantic City is dying.  Events like these will play a big part in that, officials said, and they’re hoping for more just like it in the winter months.

“We’ll slowly broaden it out.  So we’ll do it in the shoulder seasons, and then we’ll do it all year long,” said Frank Lobiondo, a New Jersey congressman.

Franco Lopresti owns Lopresti’s Pizza on the boardwalk.  Times are tough, he said, so if casinos aren’t the future, he’s happy to look elsewhere.

And if entertainment, nightlife, and restaurants are the next best option, so be it.

“I believe it is, they got to reinvent themselves, and this is the first step in the right direction,” said Lopresti.

It’s a first step on a path that needs to be traveled quickly though.  Because his business and others on the boardwalk don’t have a lot of time to waste.

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