Donald Trump said Tuesday he may return to Atlantic City, the down-on-its-luck gambling mecca he ruled in the 1980s and 1990s.
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On the same day the iconic Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino shut its doors for good, the fourth Atlantic City casino to close this year, Trump tweeted:
I left Atlantic City years ago, good timing. Now I may buy back in, at much lower price, to save Plaza & Taj. They were run badly by funds!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2014
Trump Entertainment Resorts, the company that operates Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal on the Atlantic City boardwalk, filed for bankruptcy last week. The company had announced last summer that Trump Plaza was closing in September, but in its bankruptcy filing it also threatened to close the Taj Mahal.
Both casinos were mainstays and flagships of the city’s boardwalk skyline. Trump Plaza opened in 1984 and the Trump Taj Mahal arrived four years later in 1990 to much fanfare a half-mile down the boardwalk.
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Donald Trump was once recognized as the face of Atlantic City’s multi-billion dollar casino industry, regarded as a savior of a city more than once on life-support. At one point he owned four separate Atlantic City properties: three casinos and a stand-alone hotel.
But Trump pulled out of the troubled city in the mid-2000s as the company that bore his name attempted to weather difficult financial times. In recent years he played no official role at Trump Entertainment Resorts besides owning a 10% stake and allowing the firm to use his name for a licensing fee.
Still, to this day the skyline above the city’s famed boardwalk is lit with the Trump name despite the fact he left town nearly a decade ago.
Trump added in another tweet Tuesday: “It is so sad to see what has happened to Atlantic City. So many bad decisions by the pols over the years - airport, convention center, etc.”
Trump sued last month to have Trump Entertainment Resorts either clean up the two properties or remove his name.
In the suit his lawyers charged: “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.”
Out on Pacific Avenue, where gamblers roll into the casinos off the Atlantic City Expressway via bus, car and limousine, the disrepair was notable on the two casinos that still bear his name. On a recent visit, both ‘M’s in the brightly lit entrance to Trump Taj Mahal had burned out, leaving a huge welcoming sign that read TRU P TAJ AHAL.
“I want it off both of them,” Trump recently told the Associated Press. “I’ve been away from Atlantic City for many years. People think we operate [the company], and we don’t. It’s not me.”
Trump would certainly be entering a buyer's market in Atlantic City. The Revel Casino, built at a cost of $2.6 billion, closed after less than two years in operation and reports say bidders are now looking at a $90 million price tag for the property. And Trump Plaza was on the market at the fire-sale price of $20 million last year in a deal that eventually fell through.