Trump name to be removed from Bronx golf course following deal with casino operator

September 11, 2023

Photo courtesy of Dan DeLuca on Flickr

Donald Trump’s name will no longer be associated with a Bronx golf course after the multi-million-dollar lease held by the former president’s company was sold to a group looking to secure one of New York City’s three casino licenses. As first reported by the New York Post, casino giant Bally’s Corporation purchased the operating license to Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point for an undisclosed amount, securing control of the property after the city tried and failed to take over the golf course from the Trump Organization.

In February, Bally’s announced a tentative deal was reached to take over 17 acres of the nearly 200-acre course for a casino. According to the New York Times, Bally’s officials have said removing Trump from a massive sign that greets drivers as they exit the Whitestone Bridge may increase their chances of securing one of three highly sought-after casino licenses in the NYC area.

The price of the transaction, scheduled to close on Tuesday, has not yet been revealed, but sources familiar with the deal told the Times Bally’s will pay at least tens of millions of dollars for the remainder of the golf course’s contract, expiring in 2035. Bally’s will rename the golf course Bally’s Links, officials with knowledge of the transaction told the New York Post.

Bally’s proposal is one of at least 11 bids for one of three casino licenses approved for downstate New York. To qualify, bidders must demonstrate control of the property where they want to build a casino. Now, with their control of the golf course, Bally’s has met this requirement.

However, there are a few obstacles the casino company still may face. The golf course is near a well-known casino in Yonkers that is also contending for a full-scale casino license. Additionally, the golf course is located on city-owned parkland, which would require the state legislature to officially “decertify” it as parkland before it can be used for a casino.

Bally’s said it will fund a shuttle service to connect the golf course to nearby businesses, shopping areas, and additional transit options. The area is notoriously known to be a transit desert, or lack sufficient access to public transit.

Council Member Majorie Velázquez, who represents the area where the golf course is located, has come out in support of the casino proposal.

“It’s time that we move forward and transform the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point into something that offers the local community and The Bronx an opportunity to see real economic prosperity and inclusivity,” Velázquez said in a statement on Friday.

“As we move toward a new future for Ferry Point, I look forward to starting a mutually beneficial relationship with Bally’s, a partnership that will support and uplift our Bronx communities and reflect the ideals of the borough. Working together, through Bally’s thoughtful stewardship, we can create a more inclusive project at Ferry Point and find a solution that is representative of who we are as a district and as a borough.”

Other elected officials have expressed concerns over the potential casino, afraid of the effects it could have on the community.

“It’s a pretty residential corner of the Bronx and I’m really concerned for the community, and what good it can do and what bad it can do,” State Sen. Nathalia Fernandez told the New York Times.

Just days after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, former Mayor Bill de Blasio attempted to terminate the Trump Organization’s ownership of three NYC properties, including the golf course.

De Blasio argued a decision by the PGA of America to cancel a tournament at a Trump-owned golf course in New Jersey showed the venue was unable to attract major competitions, therefore breaching its contract. The Trump Organization disputed the claim, arguing that the contract did not require tournaments to be held at the site, but that it only required that the company operate and maintain a “first-class, tournament quality daily fee golf course.”

Later that year, the Trump Organization sued the city in retaliation, claiming that the move to terminate the agreement with the former president was politically motivated. As first reported by ABC News, the lawsuit argued that the mayor had a “pre-existing, politically-based predisposition to terminate Trump-related contracts, and the city used the events of January 6, 2021 as a pretext to do so.”

In April 2022, a judge ruled the city had wrongfully ended the Trump Organization’s contracts. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Debra James agreed with the company, writing that “the court agrees with petitioner that there is no ambiguity in the obligation in the Agreement that petitioner is required to operat[e] a first class, tournament quality daily fee golf course,” but added, “contrary to respondents’ argument, there is no provision in the Agreement requiring the petitioner to generate revenue from ‘tournament events.'”

Bally’s casino bid is one of many proposals supported by major businesses and developers. Other proposals include a Jay-Z-backed Caesars Palace casino in Times Square, a lavish casino on the upper floors of Saks Fifth Avenue’s flagship store in Midtown, and a proposal from Silverstein Properties for a two-tower casino, entertainment, and residential complex near the Javits Center.


More: Policy
Location: The Bronx

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