As nearly a dozen developers vie for one of three casino licenses in the New York City area, Mets owner Steve Cohen is trying to win support for his bid to build one next to Citi Field.
The land needed to build Cohen and Hard Rock’s casino lies partly within Flushing Meadows Corona Park, which already had residents skeptical of the plan, thinking it would take away park land and bring a seedy element to the area instead.
“They can invest in many other ways, but not a casino, though," said Corona resident Javier Otalora. "A casino brings along, it may bring jobs along, but it also brings along other things that we’re not ready for.”
Fifteen thousand jobs, to be exact. Cohen's answer to the skepticism: Metropolitan Park.
"The way this is going to work, the community benefit fund is going to have members of our local community in Queens, so they can advise us on what the important priorities of the community are," said Michael Sullivan, of Steve Cohen's Point72 Asset Management. "I think those priorities shift over time."
On Wednesday night, Point72 presented its $8 billion plan for 20 acres of park space and five acres of athletic fields on Citi Field’s parking lots; improvements, including for accessibility to Willets Point station; a Taste of Queens food hall, and community investment in things like legal aid for immigration, health care and youth and senior programming.
While some see the plan as a positive, others are still not convinced. Some, meanwhile, still don't even know about the proposal. State Sen. Jessica Ramos held a town hall Wednesday night to make sure everyone is aware.
"This is a really important decision," said Ramos, a Queens Democrat. "I still think not enough community members know about either proposal or that there is this possibility of a casino coming, and our community does deserve to know."
Ramos will have a say in whether this casino gets built: She’ll be able to choose one of the five members of the community advisory committee, which has the power to reject the plan. And this is far from a done deal. Ten other casinos are vying for only three licenses.