Bart Blatstein Really Is Buying the Old Showboat Casino

Stockton University, which bought the site last year, is selling the former casino to Tower Investments for $22 million.

Showboat Casino

Showboat Casino on September 1st, 2014, the day after it closed. (Photo: Dan McQuade)

Today, Stockton University officially announced the news that broke earlier this week: The university had agreed to sell the old Showboat casino, which it purchased last year, to Bart Blatstein’s Tower Investments.

The purchase price will be $22 million. Stockton bought it for $18 million last year. Earlier this week, trustees authorized the sale of the site.

“We anticipate this being the culmination of months of effort wending through the court system, untangling a previous contract and allowing us to move forward with a new purchaser,” Stockton interim president Harvey Kesselman said in a release. “The Board of Trustees and I look forward to closing this chapter in Stockton’s history while moving forward with our efforts to grow our commitment to an Atlantic City renaissance.”

Stockton initially bought the Showboat last year for conversion into an “island campus.” Plans hit a snag when Trump Taj Mahal said it would enforce a 1988 compact requiring the site to be used as a first-class casino. Carl Icahn, the bondholder (and future owner) of the casino, said he’d waive the pact if Stockton let the Trump Taj Mahal use all of Showboat’s 1,331 rooms each summer. Stockton president Herman Saatkamp declined.

The failure of the island campus eventually cost Saatkamp his job. Now the college is getting rid of the site; the $22 million sale to Blatstein follows a failed attempt to sell to Revel owner Glenn Straub for $26 million.

“Our focus is on providing a highly valued and quality education to our students,” Kesselman said. “This has been our mission since our inception and will continue well into the future. We look forward to keeping the Stockton story all about the great educational and life accomplishments of our faculty, students and alumni without the legal distraction. It is a far more interesting narrative.”

The old Showboat has competing legal agreements tied to it: The 1988 pact Trump Entertainment planned to enforce saying it must be a casino, and another one banning the site from being used as a casino for 10 years. There could be more wrangling before anything goes in that spot again.