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Metallica Frontman James Hetfield’s Comments About Orion Atlantic City Experience Divide Local Officials

Theo Wargo, Getty Images

Atlantic City, N.J. was the host city for Metallica‘s first-ever Orion Music + More Festival, held at Bader Field, a former municipal airport. The event debuted at the location in the shore town last summer, drawing 24,000 fans over two days. The festival moved on for 2013, settling in Detroit and taking place earlier this month. Metallica frontman James Hetfieldrecently spoke about the location switch and his comments about price gouging for hotels have divided Atlantic City officials. One key figure agrees with him, while another felt his statements were uninformed.

Hetfield’s comments were related to the band’s desire to keep things fairly priced for fans and attendees. “I thought Atlantic City was going to be a lot better than it was,” Hetfield told Rolling Stone. “There was some gouging going on in hotels, ripping people off, crap like that. But it’s a gambling town, and it’s got a reputation for that. We’re trying to make this affordable for people so that wasn’t a great thing.”

Atlantic City hotels are around $100 or less during midweek, but prices typically increase to nearly $500 for summer Saturdays. Orion was held over a weekend. Local officials are split over the singer’s comments.

Atlantic City mayor Lorenzo Langford felt that Hetfield’s comments were accurate and hopes that the state and casino properties would work in tandem so that more outdoor concerts would utilize the space, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

Councilman at-Large George Tibbitt disagreed with Hetfield’s assessment, saying that hotels are pricier on weekends no matter what’s going on it town and that it was business as usual. “It’s definitely not price gouging,” he stated. “You’re looking at a depressed area like Detroit over a casino town on a weekend. Of course the rates are going to be higher. You always want to do whatever you can to get people out here, but it’s unreasonable to think you can get cheap rates here in the summertime.”

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