Trump Plaza Implosion VIP Experience Auction Raises $16,375

Posted on: February 5, 2021, 06:38h. 

Last updated on: February 5, 2021, 01:34h.

An auction of VIP packages to view the impending implosion of the Trump Taj Mahal generated just over $16,375 for good causes on Wednesday.

Trump Plaza
Seen better days: The Trump Plaza seen here shortly after its closure in 2014. (Wayne Parry/Associated Press)

As well as front-row seats (from a safe distance) for the detonation, the packages include “overnight stays and dinners,” according to The Press of Atlantic City, although presumably not at the Plaza itself, which has been derelict since its closure in 2014.

This was some way short of the $1 million Mayor Marty Small had hoped for, suggesting the city’s Democratic mayor underestimated the levels of schadenfreude felt by New Jerseyans towards the 45th US president.

In fact, the auction itself only produced $6,375. The extra $10,000 was donated by Hard Rock International, which took over another former Trump property, the Taj Mahal, in 2018.

Finger on the Button

Things might have been different had Small’s original vision been allowed to take shape. The mayor initially wanted to auction off the right to push the implosion button. But owner Icahn Enterprises objected on safety grounds.

Icahn agreed to match the highest bid for the button-pushing experience at the time the original auction was canceled, which was $175,000.

All funds raised will go to the Atlantic City Boys and Girls Club, which has extended its hours to provide a safe place for children to attend school virtually.

During his presidency, Trump’s approval rating was generally low in New Jersey, a state that hasn’t voted for a Republican president since it plumped for George H. W. Bush in 1988.

Trump’s threat in 2018 to shut down the federal government rather than support the Gateway Tunnel project, considered crucial to New Jersey’s economy, did not help his cause. The project involves the construction of a new train tunnel under the Hudson River so that the existing ones can be closed to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Trump and Atlantic City

Moreover, many in Atlantic City have never forgiven Trump for the failure of his three casinos. In the late 1980s, he financed the construction of the Taj Mahal with high-interest junk bonds, leaving his casino operations saddled with debt, while taking out millions of dollars for himself in salary, bonuses, and other payments.

Trump put local contractors and suppliers out of business simply by not paying them, and left financial backers chasing their money via bankruptcy courts. Thousands of workers lost jobs when the casinos ultimately collapsed.

While the recessions of the early 1990s and late 2000s were hardly Trump’s fault, and other casinos failed too, many in Atlantic City felt betrayed by what they saw as the future president’s financial recklessness and broken promises.

Trump quit the casino business in 2009 after the third bankruptcy restructuring of his casino company, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. But he retained 10 percent as part of a brand licensing deal until 2014 when billionaire investor Carl Icahn rescued the business from yet another bankruptcy.

The Plaza will implode on Feb. 17.