The sale of the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal to Hard Rock International was just finalized, paving the way for the Atlantic City casino to reopen. The relaunch — after some extensive and much-needed renovations — will bring a new look and a new brand.
Hard Rock detailed some of its plans for the property at a press conference. The changes will include a nearly $400 million facelift, with plans to reopen by the summer of 2018.
Based on the early conceptual art, visitors accustomed to the Lego-esque look of the Trump Taj Mahal will be unlikely to recognize the property.
The purple carpet’s reign will be over, and the gaudy minarets that adorn most of the exterior will see bombs dropped between them as they’re eventually cleared away by a demolition crew. (Kudos to anyone who picked up on the two musical references.)
“There will not be one — and underscore the word ‘one’ — piece of design, architecture, minaret or anything left over from the Taj Mahal,” said Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen at a press conference. “We are removing it all.”
The new Hard Rock Casino AC
The sprawling Boardwalk property was once seen as the crown jewel of Atlantic City casinos. But the over-the-top décor and mountains of debt kept the Taj from evolving. Several bankruptcies later, the casino had fallen into a state of disrepair; it was purchased by Carl Icahn in 2015.
Icahn had planned to pump more than $100 million of his own money into the property, but ongoing labor disputes led to him shuttering the casino last October. The sale to Hard Rock International developed quickly earlier this year.
Plans for the new Hard Rock property include two separate arenas boasting a combined 7,000 seats, a large gaming floor, and the usual array of entertainment options and amenities.
“If we can’t do it right, we’re not going to do it,” Allen said. “Our commitment to Atlantic City has never been stronger and we look forward to being a catalyst for further growth and development of the area.”
Are AC casinos repeating past mistakes?
The renovation and reopening of the property will lead to thousands of local jobs. But the reemergence of one of the city’s failed casinos has some people fearful the Atlantic City casino market is once again heading in the wrong direction. It could be become super-saturated — particularly if the former Revel ever reopens as TEN AC.
Allen doesn’t share these concerns. He sees room for a Hard Rock casino and, more importantly, room for growth in the market.
“Atlantic City, no doubt, has had some challenging times,” Allen said. “I think that it’s very important to understand that it’s still the second biggest gaming market in the United States.”
This will likely necessitate investments in gaming (such as Hard Rock’s $400 million bet on the Taj Mahal) and non-gaming investment (such as the current goings-on at the former Showboat Casino and the still-shuttered Atlantic Club Casino. Those developments will reduce the city’s reliance on casino revenue and present more opportunities for local residents.
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