Stockton Island Campus Deal May Be Off
One of the few bright spots on the horizon for Atlantic City has run into a legal snag that could end Stockton University's plan to open an island campus on the site of the shuttered Showboat Casino.
Stockton University President Herman Saatkamp announced in a statement Tuesday that Trump Entertainment will use a 1988 legal covenant with Caesars Entertainment Inc., the seller of the Showboat, to prevent Stockton from reopening the property as a school and hotel, according to the university.
This covenant, according to the Press of Atlantic City, would prevent the property from being used as anything other than a first-class casino-hotel.
"Stockton tried to establish a full campus in Atlantic City six times during my tenure as president and got kicked in the teeth each time," Herman Saatkamp, Stockton's president, said in a statement. "This time, we were stabbed in the heart."
Stockton had planned classroom space for as many as 6000 students in music, dance, choral, and theater programs.
If the dispute can not be resolved quickly, Saatkamp said in his statement Tuesday, the school will sell the property.
"Simply stated, we would be saddled with an all-cash outlay with no revenues in return. It would be unconscionable to submit Stockton University's financial stability to this risk and delay," he said. "Doing so endangers the cost of student tuition and creates the potential for job loss among faculty and staff. We cannot afford to just hold this building with no incoming revenues while the two casinos play their own gamesmanship."
Saatkamp said when they bought the property in December from Caesars they had been assured the covenant issue had been resolved.
“Today it became clear that this was going to be a problem” he said.
He said Stockton has about 2½ weeks before it has to sign contracts to begin work on the site if the school is to open a hotel this summer and the college by July.
That's a short window of time for the parties involved to do the right thing for Atlantic City and allow Stockton to open an island campus.