In his quest for a Citi Field casino and associated development, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen will hold a “visioning session” on Jan. 7 at the ballpark to pitch a plan and receive feedback from Queens residents.
It’s no secret that Cohen sees additional development as inevitable for the home of the Mets, and a new Citi Field casino would is part of that vision, something we reported on earlier this summer. Interestingly, Cohen didn’t really publicly discuss Citi Field development when bidding for the Mets in 2020; at the time it was the Alex Rodriguez/Jennifer Lopez group that raised the prospect of some sort of development to unlock hidden value with the team and Citi Field. But since buying the team, Cohen has put money into lobbying city and state officials in an effort to land one of expected three casino licenses in New York City. Even by New York City standards development in the Citi Field parking lot and Willets Point will be complicated, thanks to its designation as parkland–a status invoked in other efforts to develop in the area, as the original Shea Stadium site was carved out of Flushing Meadow-Corona Park.
So with the state Gaming Commission expected to issue New York City licenses in 2023, Cohen wants to be in line to take advantage of the situation. We’re already seeing development in the Citi Field area, as Mayor Eric Adams announced a new privately financed NYCFC MLS stadium and affordable housing project near the stadium. Besides the NYCFC MLS stadium, the Willets Point development plan calls for 2,500 new affordable homes, the largest affordable, new construction housing project in New York City in 40 years, which will be constructed on an accelerated timeline.
In a press release announcing the listening session, Cohen hailed the development as a way to bring new life to 50 acres of asphalt unused the majority of the time: “For months, we have been listening to the local community who keeps telling us there is more they want from the area. Everyone agrees that the status quo isn’t acceptable. We are committed to putting forward a vision for the area that will create a shared space that people not only want to come to and enjoy, but can be proud of.”
Also from the press release:
Entertainment is the economic engine that will make this area a destination every single day of the year— regardless of the weather or if it’s baseball season….Turning this space into usable parks for the public and an entertainment destination with live music, restaurants and bars will create thousands of good-paying jobs throughout the construction process and for years to come. We are committed to hiring local, supporting minority and women owned businesses, and providing on-going workforce training programs.
Perhaps no so coincidentally, the Mets today announced the hiring of Lawrence J. (LJ) Nassivera asVice President of Transportation Strategies. Nassivera will oversee the development of transportation solutions designed to improve mobility, efficiency and safety at Citi Field. Nassivera joins the Mets from Arup, a leading global planning and engineering firm, where he delivered and led multi-disciplinary planning & engineering projects with partner agencies, including the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New York City Council. At a time when the Mets are looking to scale back parking at Citi Field, his skills will likely be useful.