The best possible news has emerged from the ongoing efforts by the state of New Jersey to find a new owner for the beleaguered Tropicana Casino and Resort.
Earlier today, it was announced that Gary Stein, the state-appointed trustee charged with selling the property has identified Gomes+Cordish as the potential buyer. The recently formed company has reportedly bid $700 million for the Trop.
Why this is such great news is that Gomes+Cordish is the entity that, above all others, merits getting the casino-hotel, which Columbia-Sussex, a hotel conglomerate based in Kentucky, was forced to surrender last December after it pretty much gutted the Trop and ran it into the ground.
The "Gomes" in Gomes+Cordish is Dennis Gomes, who was the top guy at the Tropicana for 10 years, when it was owned by Aztar Inc. Since he came to town in the early '90s to run the Taj Mahal, Gomes has proven himself to be an incredibly capable and even visionary casino exec: It was he who conceived The Quarter, the Trop's $225 million retail, dining and entertainment complex that has been a hit since opening in late 2004.
While Gomes brings to the table an intimate knowledge of Atlantic City's gaming industry and a showman's sense of fun (it was he who brought to the Trop such exhibits as those dedicated to The Titanic and John F. Kennedy), the Baltimore-based Cordish Group brings deep pockets and an impressive track record that includes Baltimore's famed Inner Harbor and the Paradise Alley RDE complex at the Hard Rock casino-Hotel in Hollywood, Fla. It is also the developer of the planned PhillyLive! project at the South Philly sports complex.
Together, the two should not only resurrect the Trop and make it one of the town's major players, but they will likely be among the leading lights as Atlantic City continues its transformation from senior citizen day-trip destination to deluxe resort for the overnight visitor.
While things look good for the company, it still has to go through an impending auction in which other bidders are welcome to top the $700 million offered by Gomes+Cordish. In these economically depressed times when,The getting major financing is as difficult as hitting a multi-million jackpot, it seems likely that part of the process will be little more than a legal formality.