Donald Trump hasn’t had the best of years, all things considered. Having been hospitalised with Covid-19 early in 2020, he then went on to lose the November presidential election to Joe Biden and now a former casino of his in Atlantic City is set to be demolished. The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in the gambling Mecca has been shut since 2014, with its final days now approaching.
America’s Playground, as Atlantic City is nicknamed, once boasted three casinos adorned with the Trump brand. When revenues began to die down, however, the former host of The Apprentice decided to cut his losses. Now city officials have launched a bidding process to decide on the company that will get to blow up the crumbling landmark, which will see the 39-floor venue razed to the ground.
What Happened to the Plaza Hotel & Casino
There is a more in-depth piece about Donald Trump’s failed casino empire elsewhere on this site, which goes into detail about how Number 45’s casinos were arguably always doomed to failure. Trump opened Trump Plaza in 1984, a time when Atlantic City came back into prominence and was touted as being the east coast’s alternative to Las Vegas as a gambling Mecca.
The casino was located in the centre of the famous boardwalk, which first started to attract attention when it was a well-known hotspot during the ‘Roaring Twenties’. Trump Taj Mahal and another casino soon followed, with the Taj Mahal being marketed as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. The wonder, as many people saw it, was how a casino managed to struggle so much when the ‘House always wins’.
As neighbouring states began to ease their own gambling laws, Atlantic City failed to attract out-of-state gamblers in the same way that it had in the past, resulting in casino revenue drying up. Donald Trump ended up facing both negative press and mountains of debt, soon distancing himself from the casinos as his company filed for bankruptcy and they were sold off one by one.
Regardless of what the casino once was or why it has failed, the result is that it is now a safety hazard. It has been shut since it went bankrupt in 2014, with city officials making several calls for it to be demolished. Chunks of the building have reportedly broken off and fell onto the surrounding streets numerous times, which is part of the reason why the bidding process for the right to demolish it has been launched.
Money Being Raised for Charity
The money that Atlantic City raises from the auction for the right to blow up the casino will be used to fund the local chapter of the Boys & Girls Club of America, which is a youth development organisation. The Mayor of Atlantic City, Marty Small Senior, has declared that he’d like to ‘raise at least a million dollars’ through the auction, which is something that he believe is something that can be accomplished.
A large part of the Mayor’s confidence comes from the fact that his office has already been ‘bombarded’ with phone calls, according to a statement he made during a press conference on the issues. He said that they’ve fielded calls from as far afield as Arkansas and Canada, with countless companies hoping to gain the right to push the button and start the demolition of the building, raising money for charity as they do.
The Boys & Girls Club has brought in a professional auction company to ensure the smooth running of the operation. Bids will be solicited up until the 19th of January, at which point the top bids will be revealed and a live auction will end up deciding the company that gets the right to push the button and bring the building down. The organisation offers the likes of after-school recreation and career-training programs.
No Love for Trump in Atlantic City
It’s entirely fair to suggest that Atlantic City was unlikely to have been one of the places that dug deep to vote for Donald Trump during November’s presidential election. The Mayor has been extremely critical of the president and his past, intimating that he took advantage of people in Atlantic City to make himself some money and then abandoned them when things got tricky.
At his press conference, Mayor Small said, “He said he took advantage of the bankruptcy laws, took advantage of a lot of people, made a lot of money and then got out, so it’s extremely important that we do something worthwhile with this [demolition].” Trump, meanwhile, believes that he was a success in Atlantic City and once tweeted saying, “Does anyone notice that Atlantic City lost its magic after I left years ago?
Demolition work on the casino started earlier in 2020, with the original structural demolition planned for January. Adverse weather means it has been pushed back to February, but few in Atlantic City will be said to see it go. Small said, “Some of Atlantic City’s iconic moments happened there, but on his way out, Donald Trump openly mocked Atlantic City, saying he made a lot of money and then got out.”
What Will Come Next
The obvious question for many is ‘what comes next?’ Donald Trump was a real-estate developer when he bought the land that the casino was built on, purchasing a prime location on account of the fact that the Atlantic City Expressway deposited cars there. Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Marina soon followed, with the former now a Hard Rock Casino and the latter a Golden Nugget.
Trump decided to cut most of his ties with Atlantic City in 2009, with the exception of the fact that he charged a 10% fee for his name to be used on the three casinos. That ended in February of 2016 when Carl Icahn bought the company out of bankruptcy court. He still owns the building and has agreed to the demolition, with Small eager for potential uses of the land to be discussed.
Small said, “Not often does inner-city oceanfront land open up. We have one chance to get this right.” It’s believed that he favours some sort of family attraction. The demolition will be the first of its kind in Atlantic City since Sands Casino was blown up using dynamite in October of 2007. A new casino-hotel project was supposed to be built on the vacated space but never was, with Sands keen to avoid a similar failing this time around.