Atlantic City mayor Marty Small has canceled the charity auction to blow up the Trump Plaza on the AC boardwalk. Bidders had hoped to win the chance to be the person behind the plunger when the Plaza came down.
The auction was initially announced to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City. It cleverly capitalized on enormous Trump’s anti-popularity. As president, Donald Sr’s approval rating was never higher than 49%, and those who didn’t like him had deep feelings about the president.
And if emotion didn’t motivate bidders, the sheer thrill of destroying a 906 room hotel should have done it.
The Trump Plaza initially opened as Harrah’s at Trump Plaza in 1984. For thirty years it was part of Trump’s disastrous foray into casino ownership, which resulted in a $1.1 billion loss. Trump was even forced to sell business interests he inherited from his father in order to slow his casino’s decline.
When people say “the key to making a small fortune at a casino is to start with a big one,” they aren’t usually talking about the house.
Even so, the Trump Marina became the Golden Nugget. The Trump Taj Mahal (famous for a key scene in Rounders) is now the Hard Rock Atlantic City. And Trump Plaza has been empty since 2014. Trump managed to test the rule that the house always wins, and he found the rule’s breaking point.
Small promised to remove the eyesore in his first mayoral address. The Plaza is in such a state of disrepair that neighbors complain of rubble falling from the building during storms. As part of making good on that promise, Small set up the auction.
Safety concerns and poor communication
The bid to push the plunger had reached $175,000 with Bodnar’s Auction Sales, the auctioneers in charge when the cancellation order came through.
Bodnar spoke with Carl Icahn, the current owner of the property, and they decided to cancel on the basis of safety concerns. They decided that making the implosion a public spectacle risked putting the audience in the way of falling debris.
Icahn’s spokespeople put out a statement stating that they “thought the auction and any other related spectacle presented a safety risk. And we were always clear that we would not participate in any way.” It appears that Small and Icahn were not in terribly close contact over this.
Icahn is donating the $175,000 to the Boys & Girls club himself, so that they are not out of pocket.
Small had initially hoped that the bidding would raise $1 million for the club. With bidding at less than one-fifth of that and less than a week to go, that may have proved optimistic. The building was originally due to be destroyed on January 29, 2021, but it now appears that the demolition will be rescheduled. The new date will be forthcoming in the next week or so.
Featured image source: William Warby on Flickr