40 Years Ago Today, the Sands Opened in Atlantic City
40 years ago today -- August 13, 1980 -- the Sands Hotel and Casino opened its doors in Atlantic City.
And let me start with a clarification -- the actual "Sands" name didn't grace the skyline of Atlantic City until 1981, but we're using that name since that is what most people know that property as.
Anyway, The Brighton Hotel & Casino opened on August 3rd, 1980, as the first brand new building that was built as a casino in Atlantic City. Up until that point, other casinos in town were hotels that were transformed into casinos.
Within months of their doors opening, The Brighton faced some big financial problems. In early 1981, Inns of the Americas gave The Brighton's owners $10 million in financing. Shortly thereafter, that group bought a 60 percent interest in The Brighton. Since Inns of the Americas had just purchased the Sands in Las Vegas, they decided to change the name of The Brighton to Sands Hotel and Casino.
The Sands, as one of the smaller casinos in town, was able to hold its own for a number of years, but as many people will tell you, it takes a lot of money to stay neck-and-neck with other (bigger) casinos in Atlantic City.
In 1998, the Sands filed for bankruptcy protection. In 2000, in an attempt to compete, the Sands took over the Madison Hotel under a lease agreement which allowed it to make its gaming floor bigger.
Fast forward to the end of the summer of 2006 when Pinnacle Entertainment agreed to buy the Sands and an adjacent property for $250 million. Their plans were to demolish the Sands so a new, larger casino could be built.
The Sands closed for good on November 11, 2006.
About a year later, the building was imploded.
On the night the building fell, Gov. Jon Corzine, who was on-hand to push a ceremonial detonator, said to The Press of Atlantic City, "This is more than an implosion. It's an explosion of opportunity," in talking about Pinnacle's plans for a $2 billion mega-casino on the soon-to-be-vacant land.
Those plans for a 2,000-room hotel with 120,000 square feet of gaming space (roughly the size of Ocean Casino Resort) never materialized and Pinnacle sold the land for about $30 million in 2013.
Today, the land still remains vacant.
The most recent idea for that plot of ground, following the Artlantic public art installation, was to build a 350-foot-tall Polercoaster as part of a big family attraction, but like many things in Atlantic City those plans have never come to fruition.