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NY Mets Owner requests input from public about Citi Fields casino

New York Mets gambling news

On Saturday, Mets owner Steve Cohen sought the opinions of residents of Queens on the future of their neighborhood, the 50 acres of land around Citi Fields, to be exact. Cohen is considering bidding for one of the three New York City Casino licenses and intends to build a casino on the property.

When the visioning session was announced last month via Cohen’s New Green Willets LLC, rather than “casino” and “gaming,” terms like “entertainment” was used to describe possible options for the area.

The Mets owner and his team converged with over 500 residents, consisting of baseball fans, community activists, and neighbors, about the possibility of making the abandoned Willets Point area a year-round, all-weather entertainment venue. The meeting was held at the home stadium of the hedge fund billionaire’s team.

Cohen revealed that while he was open to “great ideas,” a gaming venue was undoubtedly an option for him. A number of people in the audience seemed to oppose the idea of building a casino on the site, but the billionaire revealed that he did not expect the support of everyone hence the discussion.

“We’re taking input from everybody and looking for great ideas. And you know, gaming could be a part of it. Right now, we’re in the listening phase,” Cohen said

The Meta Owner mentioned the possibility of building a park and affording better access to the World’s Fair Marina and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park from the proposed casino site.

Other ideas proposed by people in the community vision session include green spaces, community recreational spaces, amphitheater, and ferry services.

Jeannine Williams of Flushing said, “I’d rather not have a casino. I’d like to see more green space, a link to the marina. I’m a biker. I want to see something pretty.”

Adam Wilkes, a teacher, bicyclist, and Mets fan revealed that he would prefer an aesthetically pleasing vision that will attend to the needs of bicycle riders.

“Turn a parking lot into a paradise. The opposite of the song!” Wilkes said.

“If you’re biking in from Jackson Heights. It’s a very rough path over the Grand Central! There should be a bike path that wraps around it. It should be more pleasant to get in.”

Greenpoint’s Josh Youner and his mother, Jolie Pataki, talked about green spaces or restaurants with menu ideas that correctly represented the community’s culture.

“Green spaces would be great. Maybe new restaurants or food that reflects the culture of the community broadly,” Youner said.

“If they’re embarking on a big project, it has to include efficient, effective, in and out from the parking areas!” added Pataki.

They also noted the importance of offering activities to fans for entertainment before and after a game concludes. This would serve to reduce the amount of congestion in the area and allow drivers to make their way out of the stadium effectively.

“Some people would stay. Restaurants, shopping. It would make the whole experience, the whole day, a lot more fun!” Pataki explained.

Cohen’s spokesperson revealed that although previous attempts to redevelop the Queens area failed, the billionaire plans to follow through on every protocol in order to gain the approval of the government and build his dream location, whatever it may be.

The spokesperson also disclosed that while several options, including a gaming venue, were being considered, the year-round entertainment and dedicated green space option were two that would certainly be proposed.

The agreed-upon proposal for the 50 acres space will be announced this spring. In the meantime, 10 to 12 more Community Vision sessions will be conducted over the next few weeks.

Like a number of areas in downstate New York, Cohen’s intention to build a gaming venue in Queens has met some opposition. Due to this, if the Mets owner wishes to advance in his plan, Cohen will have to build up the support of residents, community groups, and politicians.

Records show that via his New Green Willets, created in April, he has set aside a minimum of $334,854 for outside lobbyists to aid him in securing support from several state and city officials for the gaming venue and other businesses.
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