It’s the unofficial start of the summer and the official opening of many attractions in Atlantic City .
Workers at Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier added finishing touches to the century old amusement park this morning, hours before rides opened to the public.
Anthony Catanoso, president of the Steel Pier, expressed his excitement, saying, “This is the first year we’ve come into a season as owners and we’ve been able to make an investment for the future.”
The iconic pier was purchased by new owners in August. Its makeover is part of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s aggressive plan to revitalize the gaming town. More than 20 rides are expected to open throughout the summer season.
Six new rides on the Steel Pier are part of a $100 million renovation that includes transforming the majority of the pier into an enclosed entertainment complex by 2015.
Excitement seemed to mount amongst tourists on the boardwalk but this week’s fatal stabbings linger with Florida resident Dotti Brennan. “I would not walk out on the streets, let me put it that way,” said Brennan. “It’s scary.”
Other vacationers told NJ Today the recent crimes served as a reminder to remain cautious but that it wouldn’t stop any of them from visiting the resort town. For Bronx resident John Malletti, access to the beach makes this gaming city special. “Well, you don’t have the beaches that Atlantic City has,” said Malletti. “I mean you can go to Yonkers and what have you got? You gotta a street outside.”
A few blocks away , Revel, Atlantic City’s newest $2.4 billion resort, kicked off its official premiere today. Megastar Beyoncé has four concerts scheduled over the weekend. The first three concerts sold out in one minute .
“We’re here to see the Beyoncé show,” said Millie Merlucci of Staten Island.
Revel opened in April for an eight-week preview period. Executives say now it’s time to start generating revenue. They anticipate more than 100,000 visitors will walk through Revel’s doors over the holiday weekend.
Mitch Gorshin, Executive Director of Creative and Fun at Revel, said “This is a classic, game day profile that we’re in right now. We’ve had our weeks of our preview building up to the games. We’ve been practicing and working out kinks, adjusting our game play and the weekend is finally hear of the big game.”
Major renovations are underway in other casinos and throughout the city. Along with an aggressive new marketing plan — DO AC — expectations are running high. Executives hope a busy Memorial Day weekend will mark the beginning of a new era for the gaming town.
Reporting from Atlantic City, Lauren Wanko files this report.