It Is Unclear If Cirque du Soleil Missed A Great Opportunity Or Dodged A Bullet By Foregoing Inclusion Into The American Dream Mall In NJ
Au Revoir To Cirque du Soleil
It may be The “American Dream” Mall for a scant few, but for many others it has become a Canadian nightmare; with construction delays, traffic problems and few brands signing up for this 3.6 million sq.ft. of potential calamity in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Things have gotten so bad that even Cirque du Soleil, who started out with a purported contract to have a dedicated year-round live show on stage there, moved the project to just “rumor” and then finished with a position of “pure speculation”. Suffice to say that Cirque du Soleil is now out and so is the planned dedicated theatre for them at the "American Dream"(all credit to Dir John Boorman)
Despite Prior Announcements, No Theatre at American Dream
What is left at this Canadian conceived/funded/built (that is now a) mall/amusement/ice-rink/waterpark development in New Jersey’s Meadowlands, is a crazy melange of pretty much anything that would bring people through its doors. What is a surprise is that they just don’t pay people to come visit the mall itself, as that could be far cheaper, as the first phase of this project has already cost over $5 billion just to open its doors to the public.
The potential white elephant in New Jersey, that has scant few shops and restaurants, has now set an opening day of October 25, 2019, and also intends to open the non-shopping attractions, that includes a water park, amusement park, an indoor ski slope and an ice rink - sans the Cirque du Soleil theatre.
"Dream, Shop, Play and Dine" is Missing "Watch"
The development has already weathered three developers, four designs, a rough recession and one angry NJ governor Chris Christie. The Governor famously called the building the ugliest building in America due to its terrible paintwork on the exterior of the building that abuts the Western Spur of the NJ Turnpike. This project was first conceived in 1994 when the retail landscape was far healthier and shopping malls still made sense.
With internet shopping now being the most common way to purchase goods, shopping malls have lost the momentum from decades ago, but the American Dream project just steamed ahead. Given the amount of space that the mall was to provide, it seemed only fitting that the Canadian developers would try to get their fellow Canadian company into the mix.
Last Ditch Effort To Reinvent The Shopping Mall
The American Dream mall is a last-ditch by developers to save the American mall idea, by bringing in non-shopping destination activities. A live performance theatre provides a cultural aspect never seen before in a shopping mall. The complex claims partnerships with some big names like DreamWorks, Coca-Cola, Nickelodeon, Lego and Vice, but given its inability to deliver Cirque du Soleil, these are dubious relationships at best.
Transportation to the mall could prove to be troublesome as public transit is far from ready and the New Jersey Turnpike can't deliver any more cars due to its overcrowding The mall will run private shuttle buses, picking up visitors in Manhattan and from local airports. There may be better examples of the new-age mall strategy, with a new shining example opening at TSX Broadway, in the heart of Times Square.
Does Cirque du Soleil Miss an Opportunity or Dodge a Bullet?
It is no secret that the Cirque du Soleil (CDS) shows struggle to perform in the NYC area. The franchise is incredibly strong in Las Vegas NV, but they cannot seem to break into the NYC market, notwithstanding the many valiant attempts they have already made at various locations around the city over the last few years. The most successful CDS show was at the big top in Battery Park way back in 1995 .
Since then Cirque has bounced around to Randall's Island, Liberty State Park, Roosevelt Island, MSG, The Beacon Theatre, Radio City Music Hall and finally the Lyric Theatre. If Cirque had been able to pull the trigger at the American Dream, it would have been their first sit-down permanent show in the NYC area albeit at a huge financial risk. The American Dream financials are no dream, despite their protestations.