New York Mets Owner Casino Bid to Benefit from Willets Point Stadium Project
- Citi Field is the location of Mets owner Steve Cohen’s proposed casino
- A mega development near Citi Field in Willets Point includes a stadium for the NYCFC
- Cohen has been shelling out money and meeting government officials to gain support for his plan
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen‘s plan to build a casino in Queens has received a boost after city officials recently announced a $780 million mixed-used development project near Citi Field in Willets Point. The project, which includes a 25,000-seat soccer stadium that will become home to the New York City FC, has gained the backing of Mayor Eric Adams.
Soccer Stadium a Boost for Cohen’s Casino Plan
The state will award three licenses for downstate casinos and Cohen is expected to officially launch a bid to secure one of those licenses. The billionaire is eyeing Citi Field’s parking lot as the location of the casino which will be developed via a potential partnership with Hard Rock.
The $780 million development project in Willets Point will increase Cohen’s chances of getting the nod for his casino proposal, according to insiders. The project, which also includes a hotel and 2,500 units of affordable housing, will drive more people to the Willets Point area. Cohen and his team see this as a “big selling point” for the casino, a City Hall employee said.
Cohen Spending Huge Sums for Casino Venture
Cohen has been in talks with relevant government officials and business individuals for several months now to try and obtain support for his plans. He has already shelled out massive sums for his new venture, some of which went to a newly-formed lobbying group called “New Green Willets” which has been working to gain support from both state and city officials for a US casino development in Willets Point.
New Green Willets is linked to Cohen, as the general counsel of a financial firm he currently owns is serving as the main principal of the group, city lobbying records show. Cohen has so far spent nearly $500,000 on lobbying efforts, on top of other expenses related to his casino plans.
In 2021, he donated $1.5 million to a Super PAC which supported Adams’ mayoral bid. Cohen’s wife Alexandra also contributed $69,700 to Gov. Kathy Hochul‘s election campaign earlier this year. Apart from that, the Cohen family also gave donations to the state Democratic Party Campaign Committee and the state Democratic Assembly Committee amounting to $150,000 in total.
Two of the three casino licenses up for grabs will likely go to existing downstate casinos, Genting Resorts World New York City in Queens and MGM-Empire City in Yonkers. Among Cohen’s key rivals for the third license is real estate firm Related Companies which could team up with Wynn Resorts to build a casino in Manhattan.