Plan founders for Stockton campus at former Showboat casino

The Showboat seems to have sailed for Stockton University’s Atlantic City campus plans.

The South Jersey school purchased the shuttered casino in December for $18 million to serve as a satellite campus.

But Stockton does not have a clear title to the facility because of a deed restriction that restricts its use to a casino.

Testifying before the New Jersey Senate Budget and Approriations Committee Thursday, acting Stockton President Harvey Kesselman said it would be in the school’s best interest to get rid of the former casino, which is costing $100,000 a week to maintain.

“Our goal is to get from under this as quickly as possible,” Kesselman said. “I’m doing to do everything I can to do so.”

One possibility would be selling to Glen Straub, the new owner of Revel.

Whatever the plan, Sen. Paul Sarlo said he hopes it will be accomplished quickly.

“That is public dollars, that is students’ money,” said Sarlo, D-Bergen. “We need to stop the bleeding quickly and come up with a plan quickly to shut the faucet off, literally, of that $400,000 [a month] that’s going down the drain right now.”

Though the Showboat plan did not work out, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said he hopes Stockton will find another location in the city for a satellite campus.

“I think that a university is still critical to the future of Atlantic City,” he said. “We certainly hope it’s Stockton. If they’re not interested in Showboat, we’ve got to see what location they’re looking at.”

That could happen, said Kesselman.

“I do believe that, under the right conditions, and that a real important qualifier, it could have made sense for Stockton. It could have worked,” he said. “Unfortunately we didn’t have clear title. None of us on the inside knew that.”

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