Students at Stockton’s Atlantic City campus got a front row seat this last Wednesday for the implosion of Trump Plaza. This monumental event for the city raises the question: what if the property had been operating over the last 5 years?
It is no secret that Donald Trump’s presidency was one that changed political discourse for years to come. Political activists from both sides of the aisle transformed their political engagement projects to become much more aggressive. These actions included violent and nonviolent protest, voter registration drives, boycotts, rallies, parades, and even boat parades.
Stockton’s neighbor on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Trump Plaza fell to the ground and we are left to wonder, what kind of political discourse would a Trump property have brought to the city over the course of his presidency?
“Whether you do or do not support Trump, there’s no doubt that his approach to his presidency and subsequent run for and lost reelection significantly impaired his businesses. The January 6th insurrection certainly did not help,” explained Brian Jackson, Chief Operating Officer for the Atlantic City Campus. Jackson expressed possible economic concerns for the community as the business bore Trump’s name.
Even amid a pandemic, individuals across the nation have voiced their political opinion about these events. South Jersey is no stranger to these events either. We have laid witness to all kinds of events in the last election cycle, from marches supporting Black Lives Matter to boat parades in our local waterways supporting Trump.
Interestingly, Jackson noted Trump’s moves in the later years of the business to remove himself from the business operations, retaining only a small portion of ownership in order to use his name. Jackson explained that it would be more than likely that the owners would seek a name change or buy out to avoid any negative consequences of using the Trump name.
But what might these consequences be?
If Trump’s Atlantic City properties were still operating under his name, what kind of unique political rallies would the casino’s host? Would Trump supporters circle the building on motorcycles similar to their approach in their boat parades? What kind of protests towards the Trump name would take place? Would political clubs on our own campus feature bus trips to events advocating for political issues at these properties? Would the 2020 Republican National Convention have been hosted in AC? Would Trump even care to visit the properties?
“I believe that if the Trump casinos were all still functioning during his presidency it would have been treated very similarly to the rest of his properties throughout the country and even in New Jersey,” stated Ben Dziobek, Student Senator and political activist. “Take for instance his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, that taxpayers had to pay for because of his trips there.”
Trump’s casino, which was opened in the 1980’s, was originally a joint project between Trump and Harrah’s. In 1986, Trump bought Harrah’s out, and Trump Plaza was born. Trump Plaza had a period of success leading up to its competition with Trump Taj Ma Hal, his newer property. In 2004, Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Coupled with the economic crisis, the Casino’s success was a distant memory, and Donald Trump cut ties with a majority of the company, holding onto just 10% of the company for the use of his name. In 2014, Trump Plaza would close permanently.
While some individuals, as Dziobek explained in his interview, are grateful for the property closing before Trump’s campaign, Jackson recalled this week’s demolition as a new beginning. He pointed out how we should reflect on Trump’s historical impact not only in AC, but also to the Republican Party. Overall, everyone from students to the hard working people of AC can all agree we look forward to what will take the place of this beautiful block of the AC boardwalk.