Stockton University is in “preliminary talks” to develop* some or all of Atlantic City’s Bader Field, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
If the university were to occupy the site, it would further extend Galloway-based Stockton’s reach in Atlantic City, where it is building a residential campus, parking garage and academic center scheduled to open in 2018.
The university is considering using the Bader Field site for a marine sciences and resiliency center, one of the people said. University President Harvey Kesselman discussed the idea as part of wider plans for the university in a presentation to Stockton foundation board members last week. Kesselman has had talks with Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian about buying* some of the site, one other person said.
The mayor’s office did not immediately comment. University spokeswoman Maryjane Briant wrote in an email, “Stockton University President Harvey Kesselman stated that there are no plans to buy Bader Field.”
Separately, Stockton Island Campus Chief Executive Brian Jackson said at a meeting last week that the University was talking with a developer about the Sandcastle Stadium site. Briant, in another email, said, “Jackson confirms that his recent remarks referenced only the possibility of someday holding some university athletic events at Bader Field, should an outside group reopen the stadium there.”
Stockton may also be interested in the ice skating rink on the Bader Field site, two people said. Both the 6,000-seat minor league stadium and the Flyers Skate Zone are currently leased out by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA).
Bader Field was named a Redevelopment Zone by Atlantic City Council in 2008. It was also named as collateral under the terms of an emergency loan the state made to the city last year. The site, once an airport, has been on the radar of developers for years although the city’s attempts to auction it off last year attracted bids of just $50 million. The city briefly agreed to sell the site to the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority for $110 million last October, but that plan fell through when the state took control of Atlantic City in November.
Stockton University borrowed $70 million to pay for its Island Campus at the boardwalk-end of Albany Avenue. The University borrowed a further $211 million, also last year, to pay down existing debt and to fund $25 million in projects at its main Galloway Township campus. The ratings agency Moody’s at the time warned the University that its borrowing left it in a “weakened financial position.” It is not clear how the University would finance further acquisitions.
The idea of establishing a site in Atlantic City to study coastal resiliency was floated in a 2015 report by Angelou Economics in partnership with the Atlantic County Improvement Authority.
*we updated this story on Tuesday Feb 14th. The Press of Atlantic City wrote this piece here on Monday Feb. 13th, which included details on Stockton’s plans. The University’s president told The Press that the land would be developed in cooperation with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and Stockton would not buy the land.