In a shift that signals both the end of an era and the start of a fresh chapter, the verdant greens of the erstwhile Trump-branded golf course nestled within the Bronx have bid farewell to their old moniker. Bally Links now proudly stands where “Trump Links” once boldly lay emblazoned, a transformation sealed with the quiet dismissal of a once-prominent sign.
As Thursday dawned, change was palpable in the crisp Bronx air; the golf course known for its luxury and connections to old power had officially turned a page. Bally’s, a regional casino juggernaut, sealed this metamorphosis, not merely with a new sign, but with a hefty transaction. The Trump Organization’s lease was purchased for the princely sum of $60 million — a revelation laid bare in the testimony of Donald Trump Jr. in a New York court just this past November.
Bally’s commitment to discarding the Trump insignia from its newly acquired property came to fruition with the dismantling of the sign – a symbolic act that encapsulated a cultural and political shift resonating with New York’s oft left-leaning spirit. This action was not only about business; it was a statement, underscored by the presence of Mayor Eric Adams at the inaugural event marking the site’s new identity.
The journey to this moment has been laced with political maneuvers; in 2015, an accord was struck, extending the lease on the golf course for twenty more years. However, the capricious winds of New York’s politics sought to challenge this pact under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure, citing the turmoil of January 6th, 2021. Despite no criminal findings against the 45th president in relation to those events, and a Supreme Court judge’s admonishment of de Blasio’s attempt to terminate, the lease remained intact.
Yet, in the shadows of these political entanglements, Bally’s harbored broader ambitions. The operator of seventeen casinos spread across America’s heartlands, it aspires to claim one of New York’s coveted downstate gaming licenses. The aura of gambling’s future in the Bronx is ablaze with speculation; Bally’s is merely one of the aspirants in a competitive fray for the licenses expected to be dispensed either later this year or possibly in 2025.
Established hotspots like MGM Resorts International’s Empire City Casino and Genting’s Resorts World New York are whispered to have a firm grip on two of the licenses. Industry seers cast their predictions, placing behemoths like Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts in favorable odds. Amidst this, Bally’s contends with other potential dark horses such as Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming, waiting in the wings with bated breath.
In this dance of chance, the Bronx golf course is but one piece in a grander strategic game for Bally’s — a contingency in the event its casino dreams do not materialize.
As for Donald Trump, the city that once played the grand stage to his ascent now echoes with a quieter presence of the Trump legacy. A handful of properties – amongst them the illustrious Trump Tower – still bear the stamp of his name. Yet as his former Bronx bastion assumes its new identity, it narrates a wider story of a metropolis and a man, whose storied relationship seems ever more like a bygone tableau amidst New York’s relentless march forward.