Trump Plaza Implosion Symbolic Ending to Donald Trump Casino Career

Posted on: February 17, 2021, 12:59h. 

Last updated on: February 17, 2021, 02:40h.

Today’s implosion of Trump Plaza in Atlantic City is the unofficial end to former President Donald Trump’s business dealings in the gaming industry.

Trump Plaza Atlantic City casino
The implosion of the Trump Plaza is seen on February 17, 2021. Its demolition comes nearly 37 years after it opened in 1984. (Image: AP)

A few minutes after 9 am ET, a series of loud explosions were heard at the Trump Plaza site. The 39-floor original hotel structure was leveled seconds later.

“I got chills,” Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said of the implosion. “This is a historic moment. It was exciting.”

Billionaire Carl Icahn acquired the shuttered Trump Plaza when he bought Trump Entertainment Resorts (TER) in 2016. It had sat vacant since it closed on Sept. 16, 2014. The corporate raider never had plans to renovate and reopen the Boardwalk casino, and the property continued into deeper disrepair.

In recent years, parts of the building’s façade fell to the Boardwalk below. Local officials said the structure had become a public safety hazard.

After unsuccessfully fighting for financial assistance from the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, Icahn finally agreed to pay for the implosion.

Symbolic Ending to Trump Casinos

Former President Donald Trump hasn’t actually been in the US casino business for more than a decade. The billionaire stepped away from Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2009 during the casino operator’s second bankruptcy.

Under Trump’s 13-year ownership, TER lost around $1.1 billion. When Avenue Capital, a private investment firm, took over TER and its debt, Trump was forced out.

However, under the corporate reorganization, Trump was afforded a five percent stake in the new Trump Entertainment Resorts, and another five percent for the continued use of his name and likeness in perpetuity.

In August of 2014, Trump filed a lawsuit that ineffectively sought to have his name removed from Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal. He said the properties were allowed to fall into poor shape, and they were no longer representative of his name and brand.

“Since Mr. Trump left Atlantic City many years ago, the license entities have allowed the casino properties to fall into an utter state of disrepair and have otherwise failed to operate and manage the casino properties in accordance with the high standards of quality and luxury required under the license agreement,” the lawsuit said. “The Trump name has become synonymous with the highest levels of quality, luxury, prestige, and success.”

When it opened in 1984, Trump Plaza indeed oozed of luxury. It’s where the stars stayed and played in Atlantic City.

“You had Madonna and Sean Penn walking in, Barbra Streisand and Don Johnson, Muhammad Ali would be there, Oprah sitting with Donald ringside,” Bernie Dillon, the Trump Plaza’s events manager from 1984 to 1991, told the Associated Press. “It was a special time. I’m sorry to see it go.”

Implosion Fundraiser

Trump Plaza’s demolition did some good for the area.

A fundraiser to hit the implosion button that was called off. However, Icahn’s people still raised money for the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City. Icahn agreed to match the high bid, which was $175,000 at the time of the auction’s cancellation.

Atlantic City launched a new fundraiser in response. Twenty packages were auctioned, with an overnight stay at the Hard Rock, $200 dining credit, and two tickets to an implosion viewing party at One Atlantic. The auction raised $6,375. Hard Rock added on another $10,000.