Mets owner pursuing NYC pols for Citi Field casino

Steve Cohen hosted Eric Adams, City Hall officials

Steven Cohen, owner of the New York Mets, in front of Citi Field (Getty Images, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Steven Cohen, owner of the New York Mets, in front of Citi Field (Getty Images, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

Disappointed New York Mets fans may soon be able to sulk in a new source of misery: a casino next to Citi Field.

Team owner Steve Cohen has been pitching a casino next to the MLB ballpark, The City reported, going as far as to host Eric Adams and other City Hall officials in January. Cohen is eyeing use of the stadium’s parking lot for the casino.

A spokesperson for Adams told the outlet the mayor is willing to consider “any idea” that would help the city move forward from the pandemic. Cohen, who donated $2 million to a PAC supporting Adams’ mayoral campaign, is also reportedly setting up efforts beyond the mayor.

According to The City, an LLC known as New Green Willets has sprouted up to lobby on behalf of the proposal; the LLC is connected to Point72, a financial firm owned by Cohen.

New Green Willets has paid Moonshot Strategies and Hollis Public Affairs $20,000 each since January to lobby elected officials on the casino idea. The associates have met with Councilmember Francisco Moya and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

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Queens Borough President Donovan Richards in front of Willets Point. (Office of Queens Borough President, WikiMedia / Jim.henderson)
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The area around Citi Field has been notoriously challenging to develop.

Efforts in recent decades to create a domed football stadium, World’s Fair parking and, most recently, a mall have all fallen short, The City reported. Cohen needs state authorization under the Public Trust Doctrine to build on the parking lot because parks and natural land are required to be preserved for the public.

It took until last year for the first phase of a massive development at Willets Point to be approved by the Queens Borough Board. The first phase of the proposed redevelopment includes the construction of 1,100 affordable apartments, public open space and an elementary school.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has been looking to fast-track the addition of casinos in New York City, calling for faster authorization for as many as three casinos in the city earlier this year. The state Gaming Commission was looking to issue licenses after 2023, but Hochul has said she wants it done in 2022.

[The City] — Holden Walter-Warner