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Successful AC concerts open door for more

Free concerts from country music’s Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum drew monster crowds to the beaches of Atlantic City last week, and the city is hoping to build on the success of the shows.

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Stage for Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum on the beach in Atlantic City
Stage for Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum on the beach in Atlantic City (Chris Coleman, Townsquare Media NJ)

Liza Cartmell, CEO of the nonprofit Atlantic City Alliance, estimated Thursday’s concert featuring Shelton drew roughly 65,000 people onto the sand and Sunday’s Lady Antebellum show brought similar numbers.

She said that’s a sure sign the city will be hosting more shows in the future, at least between the spring and fall, “whether they are free or whether they are actually a paid ticket. We would obviously do it as a much-discounted ticket, it wouldn’t be like your typical stadium-type thing.”

Moving forward, both the city and ACA hope to look at ways to improve the process.

Cartmell said while both shows were scheduled within a few days of one another as a cost-saving measure, that fact actually helped attract country fans who wanted to see both acts, and chose to stay the weekend.

“That’s an interesting, successful strategy for us, but we’re interested in seeing how consistent that might have been across the properties,” she said, “and do people think we should try different genres of music?”

Between the recent duo of shows and major concerts at Bader Field in 2012 and 2013, Cartmell believes the ability to host stadium-like shows gives Atlantic City a big advantage.

“We have the major arteries in terms of getting into the city, we have the parking within the city, we have the big boardwalk that gives you the opportunity to feed people in successfully and get them off successfully,” she said. “We had 65,000 for Blake Shelton and it only took us 45 minutes to clear them off the beach.”

In terms of getting people onto the beach, Cartmell said the Shelton show gave organizers a minor hiccup.

“I think one of the issues we ran into on Thursday was people trying to work and then jump into the car and get here just in time for the Blake Shelton concert,” she said. “What we saw with Lady Antebellum was, it was much more gradual. You still had the late rush, but it was tougher to get the crowd in late for Blake because you had so many people who worked late.”

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