Trump Entertainment Resorts supports development of a Stockton University campus in Atlantic City - just not next door to the Trump Taj Mahal, the company said Friday.
Stockton announced this week that Trump was threatening to invoke a 1988 legal covenant that would block use of the Showboat casino property as anything other than a first-class casino-hotel. The university bought the shuttered casino for $18 million to create an "island campus" for thousands of students, along with reopening a hotel on the site.
Trump responded that it didn't want the trouble and liability of having underage college students next door, potentially trying to gamble. On Friday evening, Trump Entertainment released a new statement.
"[W]e believe that having a college located next door to the Taj will hurt our business and create numerous problems for us going forward," the statement said. "The scenario of young college students residing full time in a dormitory a few steps away from the Taj is entirely different from allowing families to dine in our restaurants."
The company also questioned the university's decision-making process, including why president Herman Saatkamp believed the legal covenant was resolved, why Stockton did not buy the former Atlantic Club casino site, and whether Stockton's trustees were informed of the covenant.
Saatkamp said in a statement announcing the legal challenge that Caesars Entertainment, the former Showboat owner, "was to resolve a 1988 covenant . . . and we were led to believe that had happened."
Stockton University spokeswoman Sharon Schulman declined Friday to respond to the Trump statement.
"Stockton is not going to debate this in the media," she said. "We're not going to debate the issues, we're not going to debate the location, we're not going to debate our decision-making."
Trump's statement was released Friday in response to a statement the day before by Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, who questioned the Trump Taj Mahal reasoning.
"I have no doubt that Trump Entertainment has the talent and ability to deal with any challenges a nearby college campus might bring just as businesses do in other college communities," he wrote.
"Whether or not Trump Entertainment is within its legal right in this dispute with Caesars and Stockton University, I would remind them that just because you could do something doesn't mean you should," Levinson said in the statement. "A reconsideration would certainly be appreciated. We need a break."
Local and state officials had hailed Stockton's plans as a game changer for the embattled city, and the 1.73-million-square-foot site was seen as an anchor for diversifying the economy outside gaming.
"Executive Levinson thinks a Stockton Campus in Atlantic City could be a transformational benefit to Atlantic City, and we agree, however, we disagree on the location," Trump said.