So says the large front page headline in today's Atlantic City Press! "21 STORY BUILDING WELL BE DEMOLISHED TO MAKE ROOM FOR NEW $750M. CASINO" is the sub-headline.
The lengthly news article goes on to say in part........ Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. plans to close the money-losing Trump World's Fair Casino by October 1 and demolish it to build a much bigger gambling hall. The World's Fair, which is an extension of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, is losing $10 million per year, several Wall Street analysts said. The 3-year-old property, site of the failed Atlantis Hotel Casino (and Playboy Casino prior to Atlantis) suffers from an awkward layout, including a narrow three-level casino floor.
Trump intends to raze the 21-story glass-skinned building, buy the vacant West Hall of the Boardwalk Convention Hall and build, likely with a partner, a new $750 million casino hotel, according to people faimiliar with the plan.
Trump has a history of announcing financial projects that never materialize. In recent years these have included: a new Trump Taj Mahjal hotel tower, an expanded casino and new arena at Trump Taj Mahal, a permanently docked luxury gaming yacht at Trump Marina, converting Trump Marina to a Hard Rock Casino, refinancing Trump Marina's bonds, and a joint-ventrue ownership of Trump Marina.
Two weeks ago, Trump Hotels President and CEO Nicholas Ribis testified before a Casino Control Commission hearing that Trump was two weeks away from informing gaming regulators of a major development.
"It's something you haven't anticipated. Something that instead of sitting on the sidelines you will see our company do something very dramatic in Atlantic City," Ribis said then.
The distinctive World's Fair building has never been successful in its 18-year history. It opened in 1981 as the Playboy Casino Hotel. It became the Atlantis in 1984, two years after Playboy was denied a casino license.
The Atlantis failed in 1989 and Trump immediately bought it for $63 million. It operated for several years as the nongaming Trump Regency Hotel. Trump then spent $48 million renovating the property, opening it in May, 1996 as the World's Fair Casino. The casino is primarily a slot parlor catering to low-spending bus customers. The World's Fair Casino appears to be a separate casino hotel but is operated as part of Trump Plaza. The two buildings are connected by a leased walkway spanning the Convention Hall facade.
While closing the World's Fair makes sense, analysts said, they wondered how Trump, already strugling with $1.8 billion in junk-bond debt, could finance a $750 million project.
"They could conceivably do that and be open before Mirage," Jason Ader of Bear, Stearns & Co. said, referring to the Marina District casino hotel that archrival Mirage Resorts Inc. plans to open in 2003.
By combining the World's Fair and the Convention Hall's West Hall, Trump would have a 7-acre stie. The company has agreements to buy additional parcels, sources said.
Trump presently owns three casinos in Atlantic City and a riverboat casino in Gary, Indiana and has agreed to buy the Flamingo Hilton riverboat casino in Kansas City.