Investor Carl Icahn announced on Wednesday that the closed Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City has been purchased and will be re-branded and re-opened as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The purchase was made by a group of investors led by Hard Rock International and the new hotel and casino is expected to open by summer of 2018.
The Taj Mahal’s Price Tag
Icahn’s announcement comes in wake of the sites closure, which took place four months ago. Owner of Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino and Resort, Icahn said in January he had lost almost $300 million while owning the Taj Mahal and disclosed that he would be happy to sell it for half that. He went on to admit that owning more than one casino in Atlantic City was too big a project to conquer. It has been reported that the site was purchased for $300 million including renovations and is expected to create 3,000 temporary and permanent jobs.
Hard Rock’s Future Plans
“We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City, creating thousands of jobs to help local employment,” said Hard Rock President and CEO Jim Allen in a statement. The deal presents Hard Rock, an already global brand, the opportunity to have an entertainment, casino and resort chain in Atlantic City’s large gaming market. Hard Rock has been talking about opening a casino resort since as early as 2010, when they proposed a music-themed casino resort at the southern end of the boardwalk.
Hard Rock’s purchase follows a proposal to build a major casino resort located in northern New Jersey at the Meadowlands racetrack that was overwhelmingly rejected by voters who opposed the authorization of casinos and gambling to expand beyond Atlantic City. The denial of this proposal means that another of its kind cannot be revisited for at least two more years. The purchase of the former Trump Taj Mahal does not necessarily mean that Hard Rock will forget its plans for the Meadowlands completely, but for now they have fallen to the wayside.
How the Taj Mahal Closed its Doors
The Taj Mahal was originally opened in 1990 by President Donald J. Trump. Within its first year of opening, however, the casino-resort was in bankruptcy due to debt taken on during its construction. In 2009 Trump stepped down from Trump Entertainment Resorts, cutting his affiliation with the Atlantic City Trump Taj Mahal, and took a 10 percent stake in the company. In exchange for this deal Trump gave them the right to use his name, which changed again last year when Icahn acquired the company following its latest Chapter 11 filing.
The Taj Mahal closed its doors on October 10 due to a strike by Unite-HERE Local 54 union members. The closing of the casino-resort put 2,100 people out of work. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland spoke optimistically about the deal pointing out the fact that many union workers will be able to look forward to greater job security. Sweeney said the purchase of the Taj Mahal brings opportunity for workers to garnish a healthier relationship with management but more importantly brings opportunity to the region of Atlantic City. The workers of the Local 54 Unite-HERE union are expected to be rehired when the casino opens again.