Nassau officials accuse Hofstra of conspiring with Queens casino bidder

New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Hardrock are partnering on the bid

Nassau County: Hofstra Conspiring With Queens Casino Bidder
From left: Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Hofstra University president Susan Poser, Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen and Citi Field (Getty)

The casino proposal that ignited a war between Nassau County and one of its premier institutions is growing more tense.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman accused Hofstra University of “colluding” with Hard Rock International, one of the companies behind the casino bid in Queens next to Citi Field, the New York Daily News reported. The Long Island county is home to a competing bid for one of three downstate gaming licenses, which has been hampered by Hofstra’s opposition.

Blakeman cited a column in Newsday that appeared to accuse Hofstra of communicating with a member of New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s office; Cohen is partnering with Hard Rock International for the Flushing casino bid, the main rival of the Nassau Coliseum casino plan.

Hard Rock and Hofstra both denied the collusion claim. Cohen’s spokesperson declined to comment.

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In addition to the accusation, the Nassau Legislature also issued subpoenas for correspondences between Cohen and Hofstra president Susan Poser, who is being called to testify before the county Legislature. Hofstra has said it would respond in “compliance with applicable law,” but criticized the order.

It remains to be seen what evidence the county has against Hofstra, but it is clear that the university is opposed to a casino that would be a neighbor of the school. The president has been public in her opposition to the Las Vegas Sands’ proposal and the school brought a lawsuit, claiming the private university didn’t have sufficient opportunity to provide feedback on the process.

In the fall, a State Supreme Court justice sided with the school, blocking the transfer of the 99-year Nassau Coliseum site lease to Sands. The county has appealed the decision, and Sands remains optimistic about its prospects.

Sands proposed a $4 billion project with a luxury hotel, entertainment center and housing, regardless of whether a gaming license is awarded to the company for the 72-acre Nassau Hub property.

The Queens project would cost $8 billion and span more than 50 acres of parking lots surrounding Citi Field. Cohen’s plan features a hotel, music venue, food hall and 20 acres of public park, though the necessary parkland alienation for the project faces a roadblock in state Sen. Jessica Ramos.

Holden Walter-Warner

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