Casino in Queens? $8 billion project near Citi Field faces major setback

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen's plan to build a $8 billion casino near Citi Field in Flushing, Queens could be scrapped after failing to gain key political support. 

State Sen. Jessica Ramos says she's not interested in trading state-owned park land for a casino, believing that under the proposal, the borough will lose a lot of green space.

The senator has publicly declined to introduce legislation that would allow a patch of the city park's property to be redeveloped to include gambling, a major step needed to pave the way for a casino in the area. 

In a statement, Ramos writes, in part: "We want investment and opportunity, we are desperate for green space, and recreation for the whole family...We disagree on the premise that we have to accept a casino in our backyard as the trade-off."

Meanwhile, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards believes the project could be a necessary boost to the neighborhood. 

"This portion of Queens still continues to have many challenges and with those challenges come a lot of quality-of-life issues, from sex work to street vending," Richards said. "You know, the criminalization of poverty up there continues to happen, and we view this opportunity and this is not just simply about a casino, you know, this is about ensuring that we could have an entertainment venue, a hotel and all of these are union opportunities," Richards said.

What does the project include?

If Cohen is granted a gaming license by the state, he plans on building a casino operated by Hard Rock, which will also include a hotel, a convention center and park space. In total, it's expected to create 23,000 jobs.


$8B Citi Field casino project draws opposition from neighbors

Some residents living near the site of the proposed $8B casino project oppose it over concerns about crime and prostitution.

Ramos is countering with a separate plan to build a convention center and a hotel with more green space closer to LaGuardia Airport. 

"I am scratching my head," Richards said. "First of all, you know, in life we can't dictate the terms to other folks, right? Like if Steve had a plan and he presented it, you know, you can't just pick and choose what parts you like."

Cohen's team believes they still have the best project in the best location, writing: "While we respect Senator Ramos’s point of view, the state never intended any one person to have the ability to single-handedly stop or approve a gaming project."