New York Sen. Jessica Ramos, who represents the communities around the Mets’ Citi Field in Willets Point, has temporarily blocked the MLB team’s owner Steve Cohen from pursuing a plan to build a casino and entertainment complex in the lots next to the ballpark.
Cohen needs legislation approved by the state Legislature in Albany in order to start a commercial venture in the lots surrounding the ballpark. However, Ramos told The New York Post on Sunday that she would not introduce a bill to allow commercial operations in the stadium's adjacent lots in the final weeks of the legislative session.
“I had a very productive town hall on Friday which is going to be the first of many conversations I have with my neighbors,” Ramos told the aforementioned publication. “My neighbors and I are not currently in a place where it would be appropriate to introduce parkland alienation legislation.”
While Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Queens) introduced legislation in March that would allow Cohen to redevelop the overflow parking lots around the ballpark – which are deemed parkland, designated as part of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park – into a casino complex, the measure can’t become law without the support from the Senate and Gov. Kathy Hochul.
NY Mets owner Steve Cohen
As the local senator, Ramos has leverage over the designation, which is an important first phase for Cohen to redevelop the property around Citi Field. According to her, around 65% of people who spoke up at the session opposed the casino project.
Cohen’s plans for a casino come as the state casino siting commission moves to issue up to three downstate casino licenses. A rep for the Mets owner said in a statement that input from Ramos and residents about redeveloping the site will continue.
“Based on the input we have received across 15 listening sessions, hundreds of meetings and over 20,000 door-to-door conversations, we believe that both Mets fans and the surrounding community will like what they see when we unveil a vision anchored in new public green space, thousands of new and permanent jobs and entertainment,” the spokesperson said.
While the state touts the three downtown casino licenses as a means to drive financing of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, opposition is building in some of the local communities where projects have been proposed. On Sunday, about 100 people protested against Las Vegas Sands opening a casino at the Nassau Hub, which includes the old Nassau Coliseum; and Brooklyn’s Community Board 13 recently approved a non-binding resolution against developing a casino along the Coney Island boardwalk.
The New York casino race has sparked interest from many of the nation’s biggest casino companies and landlords, including the Steve Ross-Related Companies/Wynn Resorts partnership for Hudson Yards, and the landlord SL Green/Caesars Entertainment team in Times Square. Meanwhile, the owners of existing slots-only parlors at the Aqueduct race track in Ozone Park, Queens; and Yonkers race track — Genting’s Resorts World and MGM’s Empire City — are expected to submit bids to expand their offerings to include table games.