We have the long-awaited Citi Field casino plan from New York Mets owner Steve Cohen: Metropolitan Park, which includes a new gaming facility developed with Hard Rock International, a hotel, food hall and a live music venue.
Upgrading the underused parking lots at Citi Field was a goal for Cohen since he bought the team. (Interesting trivia: the site has been used as a parking lot since the 1937 World’s Fair. Before that it was an ash dumping ground.) So what’s on the table — Metropolitan Park, named for the full name of the Mets — certainly isn’t a surprise.
But, when combined with the proposed soccer stadium also pitched for the area, Metropolitan Park will be a transformational development of one of the most desirable open areas in all of New York City.
“It’s time the world’s greatest city got the sports and entertainment park it deserves,” said New York Mets owner Steve Cohen in an announcement of the plan. “When I bought this team, fans and the community kept saying we needed to do better. Metropolitan Park delivers on the promise of a shared space that people will not only want to come to and enjoy, but can be truly proud of.”
The specifics of the plan include:
- An investment of $8 billion
- Nearly 15,000 permanent and construction jobs
- 20 acres of new park space and 5 acres of community athletic fields and playgrounds
- Climate-ready infrastructure including solar, green roofs, and flood mitigation
- Visionary entertainment complex with a Hard Rock hotel, live music venue, and gaming
- New connections to the waterfront, park, and surrounding community
- Queens food hall
- Accessible and renovated mass transit station
- Improved and modernized road network, bike paths, and parking infrastructure
There are several challenges to the Metropolitan Park development, including state approval of a Citi Field casino. The state has been slowly deliberating the locations of potential casinos, and the licensing process seems to have slowed down considerably. Three casinos are expected to be approved in the southern portion of New York State, but there’s a lot of competition for what’s essentially a license to print money, as developers in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as racetracks, have expressed interest.
But even before that happens, the Mets and Cohen will need approval of legislation allowing the reclassification of parkland surrounding the ballpark for a commercial use — a change opposed by a key lawmaker, Sen. Jessica Ramos, who represents the Willets Point area and Citi Field. She issued her own statement following the unveiling of the Metropolitan Park proposal: “I will be hosting another town hall on this proposal at the end of the month. It’s important that my neighbors look carefully at the details and we’ll continue together with our process.”
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