Steve Cohen Floats $8B Queens Casino Plan Dubbed ‘Metropolitan Park’

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen finally unveiled plans for a casino development near Citi Field in Queens, NY, pitching an expansive $8 billion project known as “Metropolitan Park.”

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen. On Tuesday, he unveiled plans for Metropolitan Park, which includes a casino. (Image: New York Post)

The founder of hedge fund Point72 Asset Management wants to turn the Willets Point area near the Mets’ home stadium, which is essentially a parking lot and not much else of use to the neighborhood, into an entertainment zone featuring 20 acres of park space, dining options, a live music venue and a casino hotel operated by Hard Rock International.

It’s time New York got the sports and entertainment park it deserves,” said Cohen in a statement. “When I bought this team, fans and the community kept saying we needed to do better. Metropolitan Park delivers on the promise of a shared space that people will not only want to come to and enjoy, but can be truly proud of.”

Clear mention of Hard Rock, the gaming arm of Florida’s Seminole Tribe, on confirms long-running rumors that the tribe is Cohen’s operator of choice. Last year, speculation surfaced that Cohen was holding talks with Las Vegas Sands about the possibility of developing an integrated resort in Queens near Citi Field. Later, rumors surfaced that his preferred partner is Hard Rock.

Inside the Fight for a Queens Casino

Cohen, who’s worth an estimated $19.8 billion, has been actively lobbying New York politicians and contributing to key Democrats, including Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, in an effort to transform Willets Point into an entertainment destination with a gaming venue.

There’s work to be done on that front. The land on which Metropolitan Park would reside is designated as parkland, and that classification needs to be changed for commercial development to occur there. A similar scenario applies to other areas in which operators are hoping to develop casinos in New York.

In May, New York State Sen. Jessica Ramos, a Democrat representing the communities closest to Citi Field, said she doesn’t favor legislation that would change the parkland designation of the property on which the casino would be built. She still hasn’t changed her mind.

I will be hosting another town hall on this proposal at the end of the month. It’s important that my neighbors look carefully at the details and we’ll continue together with our process,” said Ramos in a statement.

Conversely, Cohen’s Metropolitan Park idea is supported by the Queens Chamber of Commerce and Borough President Donovan Richards (D), among others. The borough is already home to one gaming venue, that being Resorts World New York, which was previously thought to be a shoe-in for one of the three downstate casino permits state regulators will award.

In Queens Casino Bid, Cohen Highlights Data

When New York regulators will award the three downstate licenses is up for debate. It could happen next year or in 2025. What cannot be argued is that the competition for those permits is fierce.

In addition to Cohen and Hard Rock, other contenders include Las Vegas Sands (Nassau County), Caesars Entertainment (Times Square), Wynn Resorts (Manhattan), and the incumbent operators of MGM Resorts International and Resorts World. Recent speculation suggests that following a scandal involving an executive who worked at MGM and Resorts World venues in Las Vegas, the door could be ajar for other operators to win licenses.

On a somewhat related note, New York regulators are mandating that applicants for gaming permits possess “integrity, honesty, good character and reputation.” As the New York Post reports, in 2014, Cohen’s then hedge fund, SAC Capital, was forced to pay $1.8 billion to federal regulators to settle charges of wire fraud. Cohen himself was never criminally charged.

For his part, the Mets owner is leaning into data to support the Queens casino effort, noting the borough is home to 2.4 million residents, the Mets attract three million fans a year, and the US Open and NYCFC of Major League Soccer draw another one million visitors – all of which he hopes will support the Metropolitan Park plan.

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