Mets Owner Cohen Leveraging Citi Field Parking Lot in Queens Casino Quest

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It’s widely known that New York Mets owner Steven Cohen wants to bring a casino hotel to the Citi Field area. Now, he’s playing hardball with a coveted parking lot to move his gaming ambitions forward.

Citi Field in Queens, New York. Mets owner Steve Cohen is using the parking lot there to drive his casino ambitions. (Image: Getty Images)

The New York City Football Club (NYCFC), a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, plans to open a new stadium in Willets Point near Citi Field. That’s part of a broader redevelopment plan for the area. Reportedly, there’s a deal on the table between the Mets and the soccer team to allow the latter’s fans to access the Citi Field parking lot for NYCFC games. Cohen is said to be dragging his feet on inking that accord.

The soccer stadium is scheduled to be ready in time for World Cup games in 2026. North America hosts the world’s marquee soccer event that year and New York is one of several host cities. So there’s time for the Mets and NYCFC to agree. It’s a matter of Cohen coming around on the idea.

Cohen Not a Fan of MLS Stadium

Cohen is an ardent supporter of bringing a gaming venue to the Citi Field area, but he’s opposed to the MLS stadium plan.

In fact, his disdain for the soccer project dates back to before its official announcement. Interestingly, one of the Willets Point revitalization and soccer stadium backers is Stephen Ross’ Related Companies. That real estate firm is partnering with Wynn Resorts to open a casino resort on the West Side of Manhattan, indicating the Related/Wynn consortium is a competitor to Cohen’s own casino ambitions.

An article by The City notes that the MLS stadium isn’t required to have minimum parking, and there could be alternatives for such space should Cohen extend his opposition.

At a walk-through of the Willets Point site last week, Andrew Kimball, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, acknowledged there must be coordination between the Mets and NYCFC on the parking issue.

MLS Stadium Supported, Queens Casino Not so Much

A recent study commissioned by Cohen and community group Queens Future indicates Citi Field-area business owners and residents overwhelmingly support the casino plan, but that’s on the basis of the project containing green space and parks and support for local businesses.

At the moment, backing for the Queens’ casino plan among New York City council members is harder to come by, with none overtly saying they’re for or against the project.

Conversely, there’s broad support for the Willets Point revitalization effort because that plan includes the MLS stadium and substantial job creation, 2,500 affordable housing units, and a new public school — all issues politicians from both parties can get behind.

Another matter to consider is Queens’ appetite for a second casino. Resorts World New York is widely expected to land one of the three downstate permits New York regulators will eventually award, and that could work against a second gaming project in the borough.

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