Ccc Finds Trop Stable Enough To Relicense

ATLANTIC CITY – Tropicana Casino and Resort is financially strong enough to weather an undetermined delay of its major expansion project, the Casino Control Commission said Wednesday in awarding the casino a four-year license renewal.

“This is an easy one, ~ Deputy Attorney General Jack Adams of the Division of Gaming Enforcement told commissioners.

Still, the commission ordered Tropicana to submit a revised two-year financial forecast within 90 days. The casino’s projections became useless two weeks ago,when one end of a parking garage under construction collapsed and killed four workers.

“While I believe that Tropicana and (parent company) Aztar are and will continue to be financially stable, this commission would be remiss if it did not consider me potential effect of the construction accident, commission Chair Linda Kassekert said.

The garage is part of a $245 million expansion that had been scheduled to open in March. The project includes 504 hotel rooms, 2,400 parking spaces, convention space and a 225,OOO-square-foot themed retail complex called The Quarter.

Construction stopped when the garage collapsed. There is no timetable for it to resume, testified Robert Haddock, Aztar president and chief financial officer.

“We’re assuming the whole project will continue at some time, including the garage. At this stage there is not a plan that has been put in place for components to proceed,” Haddock said.

The accident site needs to be stabilized to ensure no further damage or danger to workers, he said. Once that is done work could resume in some locations, he said.

“It may well be the case, although I cannot sit here and say with any certainty that we will see construction commence in parts of the site ahead of others,” Haddock said.

Keating Building Corp. of Philadelphia will remain the general contractor, he said. “Key subcontractors” will also remain on the job, he said.

Authorities have yet to determine why the garage collapsed.

Even without the expansion, Tropicana generates enough cash and Aztar has more than enough resources to pay its bills, Haddock said. Aztar’s cash flow over the last 12 months was five times its interest expenses, he said.

“There’s a lot of room to meet our financial obligations,” he said.

Haddock noted that Aztar’s stock price, which closed Wednesday up 42 cents at $21.22, remained stable after the garage collapse despite a brief dip that day.

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