ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Volleyball Olympians, boxing matches between police and firefighters, a sand-sculpting competition, free concerts on the beach and daredevil plane pilots are just some of the non-gambling attractions Atlantic City has planned for this summer.
The events are part of the resort's strategy to attract more visitors with events that don't involve gambling, and most of them are free. The effort is seen as crucial to the resort's future as gambling revenue continues to decline amid ever-increasing competition from new casinos in the northeastern U.S.
The AVP pro beach volleyball tour will return to Atlantic City on Sept. 5-7. In 2013, players including New Jersey native Ryan Doherty, Olympians Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross, Jen Kessy, Sean Rosenthal, Jake Gibb, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, and three-time Manhattan Beach Open champion Whitney Pavlik competed.
The Fire On the Water festival will include the police vs. fire boxing match and a firefighter skills competition on May 17-18. In the Firefighter Combat Challenge, pairs of competitors dressed in full gear will race head to head as they simulate the physical demands of real-life firefighting by performing a linked series of five tasks, including climbing a five-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized, 175-pound "victim." It will be held at Gardiner's Basin.
On June 29, the Atlantic City Challenge Triathlon will be held. More than 1,100 athletes have registered to take on the 140.6 mile race course that begins and ends in Atlantic City.
Country music star Blake Shelton is playing for free on the beach on July 31, and a second big-name concert is planned for Aug. 3. That act has not yet been announced.