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Stockton’s acting president aims to ‘get out from under’ Showboat deal

Stockton University bought Showboat for $18 million late last year.-(AARON HOUSTON)

Stockton University acting President Harvey Kesselman appeared before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday to discuss predecessor Herman J. Saatkamp Jr.’s recent purchase and sale of the shuttered Showboat casino, where the Galloway school had hoped to establish an Atlantic City satellite campus.Under Saatkamp’s direction, Stockton bought the property from Caesars Entertainment for $18 million late last year only to find out in March that Trump Entertainment planned on blocking the development of a campus at the site due to a 1988 covenant it signed with Caesars and Resorts stipulating the property can only be used as a casino-hotel.

Stockton then sold Showboat for $26 million to Florida developer Glenn Straub, who recently also acquired the nearby shuttered Revel casino.

Amid scrutiny of the move and calls from state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) to appear on Thursday before the committee, Saatkamp abruptly resigned earlier this week.

According to a Press of Atlantic City report, Kesselman told the committee that the university plans to “get out from under this as quickly as possible” and may look to other sites within Atlantic City to develop a campus.

“This was a Stockton mistake,” Kesselman reportedly said. “We will own it and we will come back and correct it.”

According to a report in The Record, Sarlo questioned whether or not Stockton broke a state law in its initial purchase of the property, since it did not undergo a review by the state comptroller, which is required for purchases of over $10 million by public entities.

Though plans for Straub’s redevelopment of Showboat may still include a space for Stockton to maintain a campus, its prospects remain unknown. On Thursday, the city council in Atlantic City, which is set to pass a package of local bills allowing for the property to be used as a campus by Stockton, issued a 24-hour notice to Trump in an effort to kick-start negotiations between the parties.

As pointed out in a Press of Atlantic City report on the development, Trump still could present a legal challenge to the council despite its support of Stockton at the Showboat site.

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