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Betting Big: The $8 Billion Casino Plan Transforming Queens

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  • Digital Team 

Steve Cohen, the owner of the New York Mets, is embarking on a bold new venture by proposing an $8 billion casino and entertainment complex at Citi Field, the home of the Mets. This expansive plan, which includes a partnership with Hard Rock International, aims to transform the surrounding 50-acre parking lot into “Metropolitan Park,” a multifaceted entertainment hub featuring a Hard Rock hotel and casino, a separate sportsbook site, live music venues, a food hall, and substantial green spaces​​​​. Currently, there is only one casino operating in New York, and online options are also somewhat restricted. Only offshore, crypto, and Pay N Play options like Instant Casino are currently available in the state. While these offer players great benefits like generous welcome bonuses and the ability to make near-instant withdrawals and deposits, another land-based option is sure to be welcomed by locals.

However, it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

Amid financial challenges facing many traditional sports teams, Cohen’s strategy involves leveraging the synergy between sports and integrated resort experiences to generate new revenue streams. This move is partly driven by the broader industry trends where sports franchises are increasingly turning to real estate and entertainment diversifications to enhance their revenue.

The proposal, however, faces hurdles, particularly in gaining necessary legislative approvals. Cohen’s plan requires a state bill to allow the conversion of city parkland—currently the parking lot—into the development site. The legislative outcome heavily depends on local political support, and while some local leaders have shown support, others, including State Senator Jessica Ramos, have expressed reservations and emphasized community consultation before moving forward with such a transformative project​​.

In response to these challenges, Cohen and his team have embarked on a comprehensive community engagement initiative, hosting over 15 workshops and conducting thousands of door-to-door conversations. Their efforts appear to be resonating locally, with a significant portion of the community reportedly supporting the project after being informed about the plans and the benefits it promises, such as job creation and infrastructural improvements​​.

Cohen’s venture into the casino business is not just about financial diversification but also about creating a landmark that could serve as a year-round attraction, enhancing the cultural and economic fabric of Queens, New York. The project promises to create nearly 15,000 permanent and construction jobs, reflecting its significant economic impact​​.

The architectural and design aspects of the Metropolitan Park project also reflect a modern sensibility toward environmental sustainability and urban integration. Plans include the incorporation of solar panels, green roofing systems, and new connections to existing transportation networks and the waterfront. These features are aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of the development and enhancing the overall sustainability of the Queens area. Notably, the project proposes to revitalize an underused area, transforming it into a vibrant public space that aligns with New York City’s broader goals of urban renewal and green infrastructure development.

Community reactions have been mixed, with significant support shadowed by vocal concerns regarding potential traffic, environmental impact, and the social implications of a large-scale gambling venue. Cohen’s team has committed to ongoing dialogue with community stakeholders, emphasizing that the development will adhere to the highest standards of community benefit and engagement. This includes a billion-dollar pledge toward community improvements contingent on the project’s approval, which underscores the potential transformative impact of the initiative on local economies and the social fabric of the surrounding neighborhoods.

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