Mets owner Steve Cohen lines up support for $8 billion casino project next to Citi Field

Mets owner Steve Cohen lined up the backing of 100 civic leaders, small business owners and residents Monday to back his $8 billion “Metropolitan Park” plan to build a casino complex project next to Citi Field — a hardball bid to woo resistant state Sen. Jessica Ramos to support the project. 

Billionaire Cohen needs Ramos to move legislation in Albany to re-designate the parking lots and other property around the Mets ballpark from parkland to commercial use in order to bid on the project.

Ramos has refused to do so since Cohen made the request more than a year ago — and there are only a few more weeks remaining in the 2024 legislative session.

About 100 people gathered at Diversity Plaza in Queens at 3:30pm to hear roughly a dozen speakers advocate for pushing forward on the Metropolitan Park project on May 13, 2024. Dorian Geiger/NY Post

In a not-so-subtle move, the pro-casino rally was held in Diversity Park in Jackson Heights near Ramos’ district office.

Supporters chanted and carried signs saying,  “We want jobs,” “We Deserve Nice Things,” “No More Asphalt,” “We want generational wealth” and “Moms for Metropolitan Park.”

Going to bat for the casino project were parishioners of First Baptist Church of Corona, who said the project would generate job opportunities and entertainment for nearby Queens residents.

Mets’ owner Steve Cohen’s “Metropolitan Park” plan will see a casino be built next to Citi Field in Queens. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Dwight Young, 25, said the casino plan “provides an opportunity for young men, young people to … generate generational wealth.”

“As a black man inside of East Elmhurst, New York, especially in Queens, we haven’t had a lot of opportunity to get a lot of jobs and build generational wealth inside our community,” he said.

His mom, Valerie Young, 60, said it was important to have entertainment options in Queens.

“I travel too far to experience it in other boroughs. We deserve it here. With everything changing, our community is changing — people need jobs. We need whatever we can to generate sustainability. We deserve it.,” she said.

Queens residents praised Steve Cohen’s ‘Metropolitan Park’ plan for bringing entertainment options and opportunities to the area. Dorian Geiger/NY Post

Eddie Valentin, owner of pioneering LGBTQ bar Friend’s Tavern, said the casino-entertainment complex was a home run.

“I say we do this. We do this, not only because we’re turning a black tar, ugly space into something beautiful for the future and for the children of the neighborhood but at the same time, we’re going to be uniting a lot of people who are coming for different concerts, who are coming for the hotels, and who’s coming for a better Flushing Meadow Park,” Valentin said.

“Anytime I go to a concert, anytime I go to anything I have to an outer-borough to do it. Why can’t it be that I can’t just take my beautiful number 7 train, go four stops, and find the same thing there? Why do I have to go to Brooklyn? ….Why do I have to go to Nassau County or Suffolk County to go to a concert? Why can’t I do it here?

Ramos, asked about the Cohen squeeze play on her turf, said in a text statement, “Steve Cohen is doing his job trying to win support for his casino bid, and I’m doing mine in Albany representing my constituents.”

Sen. Jessica Ramos has refused to move the legislation in Albany since Steve Cohen made the request more than a year ago. Paul Martinka
An Aerial overview of Steve Cohen’s casino project as part of the new “Metropolitan Park” in Queens. provided

Other Queens officials back the project.

Councilman Francisco Moya and Assemblyman Jeffry Aubry, who also represents the neighborhoods around Citi Field, have pledged their support, as has Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

“Why would you want to lose $8 billion inside your backyard? It’s ridiculous,” said one Queens political insider, who requested anonymity so as not to jeopardize the chance of Ramos joining the casino team.

Last November, Cohen unveiled his sprawling gaming center, hotel, and music venue near the Mets ball park that he dubbed “Metropolitan Park” after the team’s full corporate name.

The proposed entertainment complex, which will be operated with Cohen by Hard Rock International, also offers the community goodies such as 20 acres of green space and access to Flushing Bay.  

Meanwhile, the existing Genting Resorts World New York slots parlor by Aqueduct Race Track in Queens plans on submitting a bid for a state license to offer live table games that will include an expanded complex featuring a new 7,000-seat concert hall.

Other casino plans include Bally’s at Ferry Point in The Bronx, one with Related Companies and Wynn Resorts in Hudson Yards, the Silverstein Properties in Hell’s Kitchen, the Thor Equity consortium gaming facility complex along the Coney Island boardwalk and Sands casino at the Nassau Coliseum hub in Uniondale.

State regulators are not expected to award the licenses until the end of 2025.

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