Fields has expanding casino plans

Jun 3, 2008 7:02 PM

by Ray Poirier | Richard Fields had hoped that by taking over Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Massachusetts, that he would have a leg up when the legislature approved Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to license three casinos in the commonwealth.

But Patrick’s plan was shot down and Fields was left with a struggling thoroughbred race track.

So deciding to look elsewhere for his casino, Fields decided to approach his former pal and nemesis Donald Trump, who had indicated that his three Atlantic City casinos might be available.

Fields and Trump became close friends when Fields was managing the career of Marla Maples who later became Mrs. Trump, at least for a while.

The two entrepreneurs got together to approach the Seminole Indians with a plan to build a couple of Hard Rock casinos. Somehow, Trump ended up outside-looking in while Fields made millions developing the tribal casinos. Trump sued his former partner. With this sale, however, Trump has agreed to drop his Florida lawsuit that was scheduled to go to trial this summer.

As for the offer of $316 million for the Trump Marina Casino, the smallest producer of the three casinos under the Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. (TRMP) banner, it was an offer that Trump could not refuse.

It actually helped the shareholders as well since the price of the company’s shares jumped 25% on the news.

Fields’ Coastal Marina LLC, an affiliate of Coastal Development LLC, is the buyer of record. Plans call for the company to partner with Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Holdings LLC to feature a Florida Keys theme at the marina property.

A Coastal Marina spokesman said "they (Margaritaville Holdings) will be involved throughout the design and development of the project."

The purchase is expected to take between six and nine months.

Meanwhile, Fields can still do some political lobbying in the Bay State since casino supporters expect the Patrick proposal to be revisited sooner or later. The state needs the revenue and pollsters have indicated a majority of Massachusetts residents favor the three-casino plan.

With his racetrack ownership, Fields has the real estate, his Florida development experience and the prospects of an Atlantic City involvement to place him in a strong position for a casino license, if one becomes available.