Released yesterday by Stockton University, the “Independent Review of Stockton University’s Purchase and Proposed Sale of the Showboat in Atlantic City“ an investigative report by the Gibbons law firm designed to examine the entirety of its Showboat Casino purchase in Atlantic City as well as the attempted sale of the property.
The forty-three page report requested by Stockton University’s Board of Trustees details the purchase of the 60,000 square feet Atlantic City casino that featured Bob Hope at its grand opening ceremony in 1987, and its closing and sale last year. The report written by the Newark, New Jersey law firm attempts to provide clarity to all those concerned, and details the two conflicting restrictive covenants attached to the property as well as who made what decisions, and who bears the responsibility for those decisions and actions.
Determination of the report includes, but is not limited to; the sale not being properly debated due to then university president, Dr. Herman J. Saatkamp’s haste to seal the deal, which subsequently prevented the Board of Trustees from weighing all of the facts, a crucial fact being, the owners (Caesars) inability to deliver on its promise to provide a waiver from Trump of the 1988 Covenant and the indemnification provision, as obtained on page 1 of the executive summary of the report.
Also for consideration in the report is that Jon F. Hanson, an advisor to Governor Christie, was unaware that the covenants even existed until six months after a 2014 September meeting between the latter, Saatkamp, and school Trustee Curtis Bashaw. Also the provision that Saatkamp and his wife would enjoy prime real estate on the building’s 14th floor upon completion of the project. According to the information obtained on intraweb.stockton.edu, the Saatkamp’s were interested in the possibility of residing in the ocean-front property, and that his wife “liked to be by the water,” but that they had changed their minds before the fiasco began.
Still profitable within the Atlantic City casino market, the Showboat Hotel and Casino was closed last year by then owner Caesars Entertainment in order to reduce competition in the Atlantic City gambling market which was struggling. Believing that it would be released from a covenant requiring the site be used as a casino, Herman Saatkamp, the University of Stockton’s president at the time purchased the property for $18 million later in 2014. The university had hoped that the property could be converted into an Island Campus and privately run hotel, but refusal by Taj Mahal owner Trump Entertainment Resorts to waive the covenant and competing legal claims have prevented that from happening.