New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is teaming up with Hard Rock International on a proposal to build an $8 billion casino and entertainment complex on a 50-acre parking lot in Queens next to the Citi Field baseball stadium.
While Cohen’s plans to build a casino have been known for months, details of his proposal, along with confirmation from his partners, were made public for the first time on Tuesday. The hedge fund billionaire is competing with nearly a dozen other applicants for one of three state licenses needed to build a large-scale casino in central New York state.
If Cohen obtains the license, he plans to partner with Hard Rock and SHoP Architects to build the gaming complex, which will be called Metropolitan Park. It will feature 20 acres of newly built public park space designed by landscape architecture firm Field Operations, which helped develop the High Line in Manhattan and Freshkills Park on Staten Island. The project will also include new sports fields, a renovated mass transit station and a food court in Queens, a Cohen spokesperson said in a statement.
Cohen said the new gaming complex will create 15,000 permanent and construction jobs.
Cohen hired more than a half-dozen lobbying firms and spent millions on sessions with the community to get feedback and support from the neighborhoods surrounding Citi Field. But he faces major obstacles in building Metropolitan Park. The proposed casino site is technically on state-owned parks, and the Legislature would need to pass a bill allowing the land to be annexed. This bill was introduced in last year’s legislative session but was not considered for a vote.
Even if Cohen succeeds in passing the legislation, he will face more obstacles. After bidders submit their casino proposals, any plan must receive approval from a majority of the members of a siting board made up of local elected officials from the area where the potential casino will be located. Next, the state Gaming Site Commission will consider granting one of three potential licenses.
For Cohen, who has a net worth of $13.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, the potential upside is worth the risk.
By 2025, a Queens casino could generate $1.9 billion in revenue annually, according to a study by Spectrum Gaming.
The state has not yet set a deadline for when potential casino bids will be due, or when it will make a decision on which bidders will be awarded a license.