Tom Cantone Reflects Upon Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino
The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was properly billed as “Atlantic City’s Centerpiece of the Boardwalk.”
Tom Cantone was President Donald Trump’s hand-picked corporate-level Senior Vice President of Entertainment for all three (actually 4 with Trump World’s Fair at Trump Plaza) Atlantic City properties.
When Cantone was named to run all of the Trump properties, The Philadelphia Daily News famously reported that this makes Cantone “the most influential booker of entertainment in the Western Hemisphere.”
This wasn’t just gushing hyperbole, it was actually true. And, Cantone handled it all with grace and dignity.
Cantone is now the highly successful President of MGE Sports & Entertainment Worldwide.
Cantone is also the successful author of “Book ‘Em,” a well written look at his more than 45 years in the entertainment, sports, marketing and advertising business.
Cantone is the recipient of the Celebrity Access “Innovator of the Year” award for the creative and effective Viacom Residency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When The Trump Plaza opened on May 15, 1984, it was known as “Brass, Glass and Class.” It lived up to its billing.
The Trump Plaza took the title of best property in town away from The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, which had become the most profitable casino in the history of the world at that time.
When Cantone took over Entertainment, Marketing, Special Events and Advertising for all Trump Atlantic City properties, he took them to new heights.
The excitement level and entertainment policy at The Trump Hotel-Casino and Entertainment Resorts was unparalleled in the Atlantic City jurisdiction and beyond.
Now, almost four decades later, the once 39 story opulent hotel casino will be reduced to a pile of rubble.
The implosion of The former Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino is set for tomorrow, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 9:00 a.m
The Trump Plaza operated as a full service hotel-casino until it closed forever on September 16, 2014.
Until a second hotel tower was added, it operated successfully with only 906 rooms; achieving incredible revenues and numerous industry firsts with less than 1,000 guest rooms.
Along with The Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort and Trump Castle Casino Resort; The Trump Plaza featured the finest and most desired hotel guest rooms and suites in Atlantic City.
The Trump era in Atlantic City was a “Golden Era” and a time of great overall enthusiasm. It featured ground-breaking entertainment and marketing programs under Cantone’s direction.
Cantone booked the greatest and most famous entertainers in the world on a regular basis.
Cantone created a nightly revue show, along with boxing, ice skating and created the Trump Card televised game show ... and too numerous to mention other entertainment and special events.
Cantone also always remembered to remember, to book live and local entertainers in his various lounges and showrooms. Cantone treats everybody the same, with class, dignity and respect.
Cantone was responsible for another innovation:
“We were also the first to support the Trump Plaza at all the other properties with open training camps for the heavyweight championship of the world fighters,” said Cantone.
“We opened it to the public. It was a marketing coup to promote the next big fight at The Plaza and Boardwalk Hall,” said Cantone.
Cantone is a modest and humble man. He rarely talks about himself. He always talks about “his team.”
On this occasion, and because of our own special 40-plus year friendship, Cantone opened up for us with a rare glimpse about what actually makes him “tick.”
In a wide-ranging interview, that covered more than 4 decades, Cantone offered us the following reflections.
“It was an incredible honor to be the Corporate VP of Trump Atlantic City Properties and in any given busy Saturday night, I was on the move running from property to property, checking out all the entertainment and saying hello to the wonderful crew and artists that we brought into town,” said Cantone.
”We made incredible multi-property deals and established relationships that made Atlantic City the entertainment capital for some time.”
”It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun ... but the best part was the team we built at every property. That was the reason we dominated the sports and entertainment scene during the most exciting time in Atlantic City history,” said Cantone.
Note, it’s always “The Team” with Cantone.
“I'll never forget Paul Anka sing My Way at an invitation only dinner at the Plaza. We gave each and every guest a personalized copy of the song. Talk about making people feel special. That's what we did all the time. I look back now with much gratitude and respect for everyone who helped me put us on the map,” said Cantone.
In about 17 hours, the property that held many of these memories will be reduced to a pile of rubble.
“It's sad to see historic landmarks erased like The Plaza and The Sands. Those two buildings were the cathedrals of entertainment history during their day,” said Cantone.
NOTE: The Sands Hotel and Casino Atlantic City is another property that Cantone headed at both the local property and later corporate level.
The Sands formerly sat on the former iconic The Traymore Hotel footprint.
The Sands was imploded on At 9:37 p.m. Eastern daylight savings time on October 18, 2007, the first ever casino hotel implosion on the East Coast.
Believe it or not, this implosion (The Sands) was the first of its kind and it was given quite a send off; accompanied by an elaborate fireworks display and numerous parties were held along The Atlantic City Boardwalk.
FINAL NOTE: My observations about Cantone are from the widest spectrum of observation humanly possible, as we worked closely together for a number of years.
I witnessed Cantone‘s greatness up close, personal and professional.