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    Donald Trump & Steve Wynn Atlantic City Again?

    Is it possible that Steve Wynn and Donald Trump can work together to create an Atlantic City Mega Resort Casino.

    Steve Wynn

    Casino mogul Steve Wynn wants to bring Las Vegas-style glitz and glamour to Atlantic City by teaming up with his former archrival Donald Trump for a $3 billion megaresort that could dominate the heart of the Boardwalk. “Steve and I are talking about something very exciting and very interesting,” Trump said in an interview Wednesday. “It would be great for the state of New Jersey and Atlantic City, but it’s very preliminary.”

    Trump declined to disclose details, but people familiar with the plans said the aging Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino would be demolished to make way for a gigantic development project. It would encompass as many as four blocks of Boardwalk property from Missouri to Texas avenues and stretch out to Atlantic Avenue on the land side, at the foot of the Atlantic City Expressway.

    One controversial aspect is the possibility that historic Boardwalk Hall would be demolished or incorporated into the new casino hotel. A new entertainment and sports complex might be built on Atlantic Avenue to replace the 77-year-old hall, the former site of the Miss America Pageant and now the city’s premier concert venue.

    Boardwalk Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places, giving it some protection from demolition but hardly an ironclad guarantee that it will survive. There was talk of razing the hall years ago before a $90 million renovation, completed in 2001, converted the crumbling building into a 14,000-seat sports and entertainment arena.

    The Trump-Wynn casino project also would include a hotel tower rising 50 stories over the beachfront and perhaps an entertainment pier jutting far into the ocean. A new tunnel underneath Pacific Avenue would be considered as one of the roadway improvements needed to accommodate casino construction. Wynn, who is renowned for transforming the Las Vegas market with megacasinos such as Bellagio, Mirage and most recently the $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas, wants to make a spectacular return to Atlantic City. He left in 1987 after selling the Golden Nugget, now known as the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort.

    The Trump Plaza site would put Wynn in the middle of the Boardwalk and give him a prime spot off the expressway corridor, the main entrance into the city. Earlier, Wynn met with Gov. Jon S. Corzine to discuss the possibility of redeveloping the city’s former Bader Field airport, but was told that site would take too long and prove too costly to convert for a casino.

    State Sen. Bill Gormley, R-Atlantic, encouraged Wynn to look at the Boardwalk instead of Bader Field and arranged for Trump to be part of the discussions. Gormley is expected to handle the intricate political and government negotiations needed to make the casino project a reality.

    “He wants to see good things happen to Atlantic City,” Trump said of Gormley. “I’ve had my arguments with him, but I know he’d really love to see this happen.”

    In an interview Wednesday, Gormley said he wants a casino project that would include more parking near Boardwalk Hall. Instead of demolishing Boardwalk Hall for a casino, Gormley mentioned the possibility of saving most of the building and instead selling off its West Hall annex, which was constructed in the 1970s and is not part of the main entertainment and sports complex.

    “Potentially if (Wynn and Trump) got together, use of the Boardwalk Hall would be an advantage,” Gormley said of the hall’s benefits to the proposed casino. “Those are conversations and ideas I have been encouraging for years.”

    Wall Street analysts were skeptical of the Trump-Wynn project Wednesday, saying it would face a litany of legal, financial and regulatory impediments. They also doubted that there is enough land available to develop the type of colossal casino that Wynn has so famously built in Las Vegas.

    “I don’t feel it’s likely that the parties would be looking at something,” said gaming analyst Jane Pedreira of Lehman Brothers. “The parcel is too small to be of value to Steve Wynn, who typically likes to build megaresorts.”

    Part of the skepticism stems from promises that Trump and Wynn made in the past for casino projects they had planned to do individually but never materialized. Trump once proposed building a $1.5 billion casino next to Trump Plaza but abandoned the project in 2003. Wynn teased Atlantic City Hotels with plans for a new casino in the Marina District in the mid-1990s, then pulled up stakes before construction could start.

    Trump and Wynn’s joint venture represents a dramatic shift in their relationship. Although Trump says the two are good friends now, the casino titans were bitter enemies for years and opposed each other in earlier plans for casino and road projects in Atlantic City.

    Speculation about Trump and Wynn intensified following their chummy appearance together at New York’s Shea Stadium last Thursday night during the Mets’ 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League championship game.

    “We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “If Steve and I got together, it would be really amazing. The combination would be an amazing thing for New Jersey and Atlantic City.

    “It’s a little too soon to talk about the details. It’s extremely complex; very big. And it’s really very early. Things are very fluid. It could turn out to be nothing,” he continued.

    Neither Wynn nor his company has commented on the Trump discussions. Wynn has been talking privately to Gormley since May about possibly returning to Atlantic City to be part of the resort’s red-hot $5 billion-per-year gambling market.

    Trump and Wynn represent the biggest names in the casino industry. Trump is the chairman and largest individual shareholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., owner of Trump Plaza, Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and Trump Marina Hotel Casino. His status as a celebrity CEO has been solidified by his hit NBC reality show “The Apprentice.”

    Trump Entertainment has a regularly scheduled board of directors meeting next Wednesday and Thursday in New York. The company also will report its third-quarter earnings Tuesday, an event that will likely generate intense questioning from gaming analysts about the proposed Trump-Wynn project.
    Story by the Atlantic City Press

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