Steve Cohen’s Queens casino plan suffers blow

Sen. Ramos’ poll shows local opposition as she calls developer’s survey “propaganda”

Steve Cohen’s Queens Casino Plan by Citi Field Suffers Blow

From left: New York State Senator Jessica Ramos and New York Mets owner Steven Cohen along with a rendering of Metropolitan Park (Getty, Metropolitan Park)

Polls often say little about how people really feel, but they say a lot about how politicians feel.

Take two polls about an $8 billion, casino-centered project proposed by Mets owner Steven Cohen next to Citi Field. His own survey showed robust local support, but a new one commissioned by a legislator who is skeptical of the plan shows strong opposition, The City reported.

Neither poll is surprising in the least. Other developers vying for a license from the state to build a downstate casino have conducted their own polls, focusing on other aspects of the development to show they are popular. Yet most residents, if asked bluntly if they want a casino in their neighborhood, will say no. In this case, 75 percent did.

What does matter is the reaction of Sen. Jessica Ramos to the poll of 432 voters in her district, for which an anonymous donor paid Slingshot Strategies $27,500. Ramos refused to tell The City who paid for the poll, but it’s almost certainly an opponent of the project.

Ramos told The City that she has not found many constituents who like the proposed development, dubbed Metropolitan Park, unless they have “received or been promised a check” by Cohen.

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If Cohen cannot get Ramos on board, his plan is almost certainly dead. He needs the state legislature to change the designation of the casino site, which is parkland, although it has been a parking lot for decades. The legislature’s custom is to only alienate parkland if the local Senate and Assembly members are in favor. Only one out of two support Cohen’s plan.

Assembly member Jeff Aubry unilaterally introduced a bill last year to change the parkland designation, which surprised and angered Ramos. She has said she will decide by the scheduled end of the legislative session, June 6, whether to sponsor a corresponding Senate bill.

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It is looking more and more like she won’t. Ramos put little stock in Cohen’s own surveys, which emphasized the green space and other amenities in the development and found 89 percent support. Cohen also collected 24,000 signatures from residents endorsing the project, which is a collaboration with Hard Rock.

Notably, Ramos called those efforts “propaganda.”

“I was always dubious about how they buried the word ‘casino’ in their scripts, in their written propaganda,” Ramos told The City. “I really was desperate to be transparent and hear from my neighbors directly.”