The owner of the New York Mets, Steve Cohen, has disclosed his grandiose intentions to work with Hard Rock International on the construction of an astounding $8 billion casino and entertainment complex. Metropolitan Park is a massive project that will take up a 50-acre parking lot next to Queens’ Citi Field baseball stadium. This project supports Cohen’s goal of obtaining one of the three state licenses needed to build a full-fledged casino in downstate New York.
Although there has long been knowledge of Cohen’s desire to construct a casino, Bloomberg reports that the latest disclosure of the proposal’s specifics validates the strategic alliance between Cohen, Hard Rock, and the architectural company SHoP Architects.
In addition to housing the casino, Metropolitan Park will include a sizable 20 acres of recently developed public park space. Field Operations, a renowned landscape architecture firm, created the park, which was inspired by the High Line in Manhattan and Freshkills Park in Staten Island.
The complex’s design includes five acres set aside for playgrounds, bike lanes, community sports fields, and climate-resilient features including solar panels, green roofs, and flood protection techniques. A “Queens food hall” and an updated mass transport station are other planned features of the project.
Advocates of the ambitious idea think it may become “the next great New York landmark,” a year-round tourist destination that would have a Hard Rock hotel and casino as well as a separate sportsbook facility.
Steve Cohen expressed his vision for Metropolitan Park, saying, “It’s time the world’s greatest city got the sports and entertainment park it deserves. 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.”
Challenges on the Horizon
The implementation of Metropolitan Park faces enormous hurdles, despite Cohen’s concerted efforts and community involvement. Because the planned casino location is located on state-owned parkland, a parliamentary law annexing the area must be passed.
A majority of the current board members, who are local elected officials from the district in which the proposed casino would be located, must also approve any application for a casino. The support of state gaming regulators is also essential since they have the authority to grant the downstate up to three new casino licenses.
Senator Jessica Ramos of New York, who represents the communities surrounding Citi Field, had temporarily opposed Cohen’s plan to build a casino and entertainment complex in the lots next to the ballpark. Notably, a press release praising support from business and community leaders did not include the names of legislators.
Steve Cohen, whose estimated net worth is $13.9 billion, believes that the risks involved are worth it because of the possible rewards. According to a Spectrum Gaming report, a casino in Queens may bring in $1.9 billion a year by 2025.
The project’s appeal is increased by its close proximity to sites like Flushing Corona Park, the U.S. Open Tennis Center, and a soccer stadium that Mayor Eric Adams is supporting for New York City FC. As of right now, neither the ultimate license allocation decision nor a deadline for potential casino bids have been set by the state.
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