Asbury Park, With a Place in Rock History, Expands Cultural Offerings Via NJPAC Deal

ASBURY PARK, N. J.—The city that put Bruce Springsteen on the map is looking to expand beyond rock ’n’ roll.

Madison Marquette, the real-estate company behind the redevelopment of Asbury Park’s boardwalk, is working with the Newark-based New Jersey Performing Arts Center, or NJPAC, to bring a broader range of cultural events to the seaside destination.

As part of the plan, NJPAC will present several artists and shows at two historic boardwalk venues now owned by Madison Marquette—the 3,600-capacity Convention Hall and the 1,600-seat Paramount Theatre. Already announced are programs with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (Dec. 15 at Convention Hall) and comedian Paula Poundstone (March 24 at Paramount Theatre).

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Asbury Park emerged as a destination for budding rock musicians. Mr. Springsteen got his start in the local clubs—most notably, the Stone Pony. He even named his debut album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.”

In recent years, the city has reclaimed some of its former glory—not only in terms of its music scene, but also as a fun-in-the-sun locale. New condos have gone up, with prices topping $750,000 for some units. A new 110-room hotel, called the Asbury, opened last year.

The partnership with NJPAC is aimed at building upon that recent success, said Madison Marquette project director George H. Ladyman, Jr. The idea is to not only show that Asbury Park can be about more than rock ’n’ roll, but to also grow the city’s events calendar well beyond the summer.

“We’re a 12-month destination,” said Mr. Ladyman.

Madison Marquette will share in the costs and profits for shows with NJPAC, said Mr. Ladyman. He wouldn’t provide specific dollar figures or percentages, saying the partnership is on a show-by-show basis.

Mr. Ladyman also indicated that the revenue from the shows wasn’t necessarily as important as boosting the boardwalk’s overall business and image.

or NJPAC, the events are seen as a potentially valuable new income stream. John Schreiber, the center’s president and chief executive, said the Asbury Park presentations could help the nonprofit Newark venue, run on a $45 million annual budget, pay for some of its community and educational initiatives.

This isn’t the first time that NJPAC has looked beyond Newark. It has produced shows in venues elsewhere in New Jersey, plus in New York City and Long Island.

Mr. Schreiber said he wasn’t concerned that the Asbury Park shows would eat into NJPAC’s Newark business, since the two cities are about 50 miles apart. The seaside locale “is not a competitive market to Newark,” he said.

Write to Charles Passy at [email protected]

Appeared in the October 26, 2017, print edition as 'Asbury Park Broadens Appeal With Arts Center Deal.'


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