Quote of the Day, 01.07.05.

“We’re on the verge of one of the greatest booms in the country.”

— New Jersey State Senator Bill Gormley, describing the incorporation of a new House of Blues into the Showboat expansion.

Is it all right if I’m embarrassed to be born in a city where a casino expansion gets this kind of gushing praise from a state senator? Writing that, I thought of the dynamic between state sen. Clay Davis and Stringer Bell on The Wire.

This whole thing hardly seems like news, but it made the papers.

Anyway, here’s the whole article from the Press.

Mayor Lorenzo Langford strode onto the stage and politely greeted the audience with the words, “Good afternoon, everyone.”

Then, as if collecting his thoughts, he paused for a moment and said, “Wait a minute.”

People glanced nervously at one another wondering what was wrong. Sensing he had the audience, Langford, in comic fashion, donned a pair of black Blues Brothers-style sunglasses.

“Now we’re ready,” he said, breaking into a smile.

The mayor certainly is no Jake or Elwood Blues, but he and others couldn’t resist performing silly impersonations of the bad-boy cinematic brothers during a news conference Thursday to announce a $65 million expansion at the Showboat Casino Hotel.

The centerpiece of the 125,000-square-foot project is a 2,200-seat House of Blues music club and an entirely new look for Showboat’s bland Boardwalk entrance.

Providing real star power at the news conference was Dan Aykroyd, who played Elwood to John Belushi’s “Joliet” Jake in the 1980 “Blues Brothers” movie.

The actor-turned-businessman is a founder of the House of Blues chain and serves on its board of directors. Dressed in a conservative three-piece business suit – not the porkpie hat and dark sunglasses of his Blues Brother character – Aykroyd emceed the splashy news conference.

“We want to make Atlantic City a world destination. I believe we can do that,” he declared while joining with gaming executives and local political leaders to promote the expansion project.

After the speeches were done, Aykroyd, backed by the bluesy Dane Anthony Band, performed a rousing rendition of Albert King’s “The Killing Floor.”

Aykroyd was followed by a gospel group, giving a sneak preview of the wide range of music that will be featured at the House of Blues when it opens over the July Fourth weekend.

“We are planning one hell of an opening party for you,” Aykroyd said.

The Los Angeles-based company operates eight other House of Blues clubs scattered nationwide. Rock, heavy metal, pop, hip-hop, blues, rhythm and blues and even disco are all part of the chain’s wide musical offerings.

“We’re so excited to bring our passion for great music and entertainment to this part of the country. We think it’s going to be a home run,” said Greg Trojan, House of Blues chief executive officer.

House of Blues is starting to shake up the Atlantic City scene even before it opens. A so-called “House of Blues bill” is making its way through the state Legislature to entice developers to build retail and entertainment projects in partnership with casinos.

Under the legislation, companies that contribute at least 10 percent of the cost of casino projects worth $30 million or more will share as much as 5 percent of the profits. The bill has already been approved by the Assembly and has moved to the Senate for final approval.

Sen. Bill Gormley, R-Atlantic, and Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, the bill’s sponsors, said the legislation will spur development of nongaming retail and entertainment attractions that will broaden Atlantic City’s appeal beyond casino gambling.

“We’re on the verge of one of the greatest booms in the country,” Gormley said.

Dave Jonas, senior vice president of Atlantic City operations for Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., parent company of Showboat, said the profit-sharing plan was a big reason why the House of Blues chose to come here.

“They should share in the profits. We are partners in every sense of the word,” said Jonas, who wore his own Blues Brothers-inspired outfit during the news conference.

Showboat’s expansion project will also include a 45-table poker room, 50 hotel suites, a restaurant, beach bar, retail space and special House of Blues slot machines.

The casino’s dull Boardwalk entrance will receive a dramatic facelift featuring a glittering glass-and-steel facade accented by decorative stone columns. A House of Blues sign made of cobalt-blue glass and stainless steel will soar 180 feet into the air.

“We’re finally going to get rid of this warehouse look on the Boardwalk and create a new facade,” said Tim Wilmott, chief operating officer of Harrah’s Entertainment.

Showboat’s project will serve as a prototype for new design standards that are part of a $100 million renovation of the Boardwalk planned by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, a state agency that uses gaming revenue for housing projects and economic development.

“Their leadership in this project is much-appreciated, and I think it’s setting the tone for the next wave of development in Atlantic City,” Curtis Bashaw, CRDA executive director, said of Showboat.

The CRDA is contributing $24.5 million toward Showboat’s expansion, with the money coming from a $92 million state funding pool for hotel, retail and entertainment projects at the city’s 12 casinos.

House of Blues high note in $65M. Showboat project

If you can get CRDA money for a House of Blues, I think the sky is the limit.

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