Eleven casino companies are vying for the three available casino licenses in downtown New York City. One of the contenders is Mets owner Steve Cohen, who has teamed up with the casino and entertainment giant Hard Rock International to propose an $8 billion casino resort development near Citi Field in Queens. However, some local community members are opposed to the plan as it would involve using land from the adjacent Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
According to Spectrum News (SN), some residents have expressed concerns about the use of park land and the potential negative impact of a casino in their neighborhood. However, Cohen and Hard Rock argue that the $8 billion investment will be used to create the Metropolitan Park, which will include 25 acres of open public space and community investment.
In response to the opposition, the investment partners have announced that the Metropolitan Park would bring around 15 thousand jobs to the area. Additionally, Michael Sullivan of Steve Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management stated that the community benefit fund would have members of the local community in Queens, allowing them to advise on the important priorities of the community.
SN reports that Point72 presented its $8 billion plan for the development, which includes 20 acres of park space as well as five acres of athletic fields on Citi Field’s parking lots. The development will also include a variety of amenities and improvements, such as facilitating access to the Willets Point station, a Taste of Queens food hall, and investments into community programs.
As the proposal simultaneously gains support and provokes opposition within the community, State Sen. Jessica Ramos has called for a town hall to ensure that the Queens community is informed about the proposal and can assess its potential. Ramos, a Queens Democrat, emphasized the importance of ensuring that community members are aware of the proposal.
As reported by SN, State Sen. Ramos may impact the decision on the eligibility of the proposal, as she can choose one of the five members of the community advisory committee, a body with the authority to reject the plan. Despite the opposition, Cohen and Hard Rock continue to compete with ten other casinos for a downtown casino license.