Eleven casino companies are competing for the three available casino licenses in downtown New York City, and one of the contenders is Mets owner Steve Cohen. He has recently joined forces with Hard Rock International to propose an $8 billion casino resort development next to Citi Field in Queens. However, some local community members are against the proposal as it involves using the land of the adjacent Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Residents have voiced their concerns about the park land and the potential negative impact of the casino’s arrival and associated content. In response, Cohen and Hard Rock have argued 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. Despite this explanation, some community members, like Corona resident Javier Otalora, remain opposed to the idea of a casino in the area.
In an effort to justify the proposal, the investment partners announced that the Metropolitan Park would bring around 15 thousand jobs to the area. Furthermore, Michael Sullivan of Point72 Asset Management, owned by Steve Cohen, emphasized that the community benefit fund would have local members advising them on the important priorities of the community.
The $8 billion plan includes 20 acres of park space and five acres of athletic fields on Citi Field’s parking lots, as well as a range of amenities and improvements. This includes the facilitation of access to the Willets Point station and the creation of a Taste of Queens food hall. Additionally, there will be investments in community programs such as immigration legal aid, healthcare, and youth and senior programs.
State Sen. Jessica Ramos has summoned a town hall to ensure that the Queens community is informed about the proposal and can weigh its prospects. She emphasized the importance of community members being aware of the potential casino development and stated that the community deserves to know. Ramos may have an impact on the decision regarding the eligibility of the proposal as she has the authority to choose one of the five members of the community advisory committee, which has the power to reject the plan.
As the proposal simultaneously gains support and provokes opposition within the community, Cohen and Hard Rock continue to compete for a downtown casino license along with ten other casinos.