The recent withdrawal of Vornado Realty Trust from the race for the last midtown New York casino license has created an opportunity for the remaining four potential bidders. The latest development comes from New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, who is now taking major steps to move ahead of his competitors. The billionaire hedge fund owner is partnering with Hard Rock International to propose an $8 billion casino and entertainment complex in Queens, located next to the Citi Field baseball stadium.
According to Fortune, the details of the proposal and the confirmation of the partners were released on November 7, 2023. If awarded the license, Cohen and his partners, including Hard Rock International and SHoP Architects, will develop the gaming complex in Queens, featuring approximately 20 acres of new public park space. This proposed development has been named “Metropolitan Park.”
The resort will also include new athletic fields and renovated public areas and stations around the site to improve traffic flow and the overall area. Cohen stated that the new casino and entertainment facility will offer a range of amenities, such as the Queens Food Hall, and will create approximately 15,000 permanent and construction jobs, as reported by Fortune.
However, Cohen has faced obstacles in securing support from the neighborhoods surrounding Citi Field. His plan to build the complex next to the Mets stadium has been met with opposition from the local community and officials. Additionally, the proposed casino site is currently a state-owned parking lot, so changing its status would require an amendment to current legislation. The proposed park development has also been criticized, but Cohen has brought the land issues to lawmakers in the hopes of annexing the land to the casino property.
If Cohen is awarded the license for development, he will need to secure approvals from a local official board to be considered for a license by the state gaming board. Despite these challenges, a Queens casino could generate an estimated $1.9 billion in annual revenues for Cohen, who currently has a net worth of $13.9 billion.
With Vornado Realty Trust having withdrawn from the race, Cohen is now one of four major bidders thought to be the favorites. However, the state has not released details about the due dates for casino bid submissions or the date of approval. It remains to be seen whether Cohen will be able to overcome these obstacles and take the lead in the race for the last midtown New York casino license.