Citi Field

New York State Senator Jessica Ramos has effectively blocked a proposal from New York Mets owner Steven Cohen to build a casino to build a casino next to the Mets’ stadium, Citi Field. On Tuesday, Ramos issued a statement saying that she will not introduce legislation to allow for the rezoning of parkland to make way for the $8 billion casino project in conjunction with Hard Rock.

“We want investment and opportunity, we are desperate for green space, and recreation for the whole family,” Ramos said in her statement. “We disagree on the premise that we have to accept a casino in our backyard as the trade-off. I resent the conditions and generations of neglect that made many of us so desperate that we would be willing to settle.”

Ramos added that she has drafted an alternative bill to give Cohen and his partners another option to build a convention center and hotel “and more than double the proposed open green space.”

“The parcel in question is in strategic proximity to LaGuardia Airport, and allows for visitors and tourists to feed into our vibrant food scene while addressing the consequence of climate change in the area. Mr. Cohen and Hard Rock would still make a profit, albeit less.”

Senator Ramos is not the only lawmaker that can introduce a bill to change the area’s zoning, but it is customary in New York to defer to local lawmakers when specific issues affect their districts. According to The New York Times, it is unlikely that anyone would break with convention and introduce their own bill to satisfy Cohen.

This continues the lengthy quest for up to three casino licenses in the New York City area. Around a dozen developers are expected to throw their hats in the ring; Cohen is one of the highest profile candidates, spending more money lobbying for his proposal than anyone else so far. With the cutthroat competition, there is no guarantee that Cohen’s plan would be one of casinos chosen, even if he got the state legislature to approve rezoning for the land next to Citi Field.

One competing casino proposal is a $12 billion casino complex from Wynn Resorts and Related Companies (that’s the name of the company, not a group of companies related to Wynn) at Hudson Yards which includes a public school and a daycare center. Among the other rivals, Bally’s took over Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point and wants to buy the land for a $2.5 billion casino.

It is believed that, in reality, there will be just one casino license available, as MGM and Genting already have slots parlors and are thought to have a leg up on the competition, as it would be cheaper and faster for them to convert them into full-fledged retail casino resorts.

Image credit: / Daniel

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