Senator Jessica Ramos who represents Queens is still not convinced about the proposed casino resort near Citi Field by the owner of the New York Mets, Steve Cohen. In a town hall meeting this week, the senator explained that she has not decided on whether to back the bid for the project titled, Metropolitan Park, which will feature a casino by Hard Rock.
New York is seeking to award three full-scale commercial gaming licenses in the downstate region, and there are plenty of candidates. However, the process turned out to be a slow one, and winning bids are expected to be announced in 2024. Instead of the initially projected target of before the end of the current calendar year.
Senator Wants to Hear Community Input
Ms. Ramos explained that she has not decided on whether to support the Metropolitan Park and said she wanted to hear local feedback on the matter. Earlier this month Mr. Cohen provided more information on his bid, and as a result, the Senator said that she wanted to listen to Queens and neighbouring regions’ input and have the most benefit to the area.
This week’s town hall saw two-thirds of around 200 attendees declare their support for the Citi Field casino project. Several labour unions also highlighted that union labour could build the complex. Michael Devalera, a member of Queens Community Board 3 said it allows creating jobs while his community has been neglected for quite a while.
However, others are not fans of the proposed casino. Joseph Jung from the Flushing Anti-Displacement Alliance called for Senator Ramos to oppose a gambling project in the community. There were also talks of an alternative plan to transform the parking lots around Citi Field to not become a casino resort, and be transformed into parkland instead.
Earlier this year, Mr. Cohen and his company shared that a survey by Queens Future found that the majority of residents supported the project. However, it could have been misleading, as they were asked if they wanted to see Willets Point remain as 50 acres of undeveloped asphalt, or if they wanted to use it for something great for everyone. It did not specify a casino resort.
But the billionaire’s bid is quite reliant on the Senator, as for the project to receive approval, Ms. Ramos would have to present a bill that specifically allows for the plans to move forward. There was such as bill earlier this year, but she said that she would not introduce legislation to ease land-use restrictions in the area.
Plenty of Competition as Well
The Citi Field gambling project does not only rely on Ms. Ramos as Mr. Cohen would also have to overcome the competition for one of the licenses and there is plenty. This includes Las Vegas Sands which eyes an integrated casino resort in Nassau County and recently said it remains confident that its proposal is attractive and will be approved by state officials.