Billionaire Steve Cohen’s New York Casino Proposal Partners with Hard Rock
Steve Cohen, the billionaire owner of the New York Mets, has finally unveiled the details of his ambitious $8 billion casino plan in New York City.
Alongside Florida-based gambling and hospitality operator Hard Rock International, the plan is to transform a 50-acre parking lot in the New York City borough of Queens. The site, adjacent to the Mets’ Citi Field, is envisioned as a sprawling casino and entertainment complex.
The area will be called Metropolitan Park, according to the latest information from Cohen. The project is just one of a dozen or so prospective New York casinos competing for three upcoming licenses.
“It’s time the world’s greatest city got the sports and entertainment park it deserves,” Cohen said 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.”
Economic Impact and Legislative Hurdles
The proposed complex is more than just a casino. The plans also include 20 acres of public park space designed by Field Operations, the same firm behind Manhattan’s High Line, and a “Queens food hall” to showcase local cuisine.
Overall, Cohen says the project will employ some 15,000 people, covering construction and permanent roles. The project also proposes upgrades to the mass-transit station and the addition of athletic fields as part of wider community investment.
However, the idea faces legislative challenges. One is that the site sits on state-owned parkland, requiring approval from the state legislature and the governor. Another is that one of the three potential licenses is expected to go to Genting’s existing but limited casino venue, Resorts World NYC, which is also in Queens. That could hamper the local interest in another casino.
The details may have only arrived this week, but Cohen’s interest in a New York City casino has long been known. However, the project has already clashed with another Queens development, the nearby Willet’s Point soccer stadium.
Earlier this year Cohen, was reportedly playing hardball over a piece of land for the New York City FC stadium project, with one eye on his casino plans. It is unclear if this situation could still be an issue.
Local Perspectives and the Path Forward
Regardless, the Metropolitan Park idea has garnered support from local business leaders, who see it as transformative for Queens, potentially bringing in tourists and revitalizing the area.
“With 15,000 jobs and an $8 billion price tag, we need to be encouraging this kind of development in Queens County,” said Queens Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Grech. “This is transformative, to bring those small mom and pops to the table and potentially support on site. With restaurants and food and food courts, it’s going to be fantastic!”
Hard Rock Entertainment, a globally recognized operator, will be branding the casino and resort hotel. As well as an expansive casino floor, amenities will include a Hard Rock live music venue with 3,000 seats and a new addition to the list of New York retail sportsbooks.
A new $8 billion casino project in New York could easily have been most operator’s biggest news of the week. However, not for Hard Rock International.
The veteran Florida gambling operator surprised almost everyone in U.S. sports betting this week with its unannounced relaunch of its Hard Rock Bet brand in Florida.
The operator had been under a two-year legal battle over the fate of Florida sports betting, which went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, back in New York, the final decision on any potential Hard Rock Casino at Metropolitan Park rests with state gaming regulators.
The New York State Gaming Commission will weigh the potential benefits against the concerns and implications of locals in each proposed area.
Other proposed casino projects include a skyscraper casino in downtown Manhattan, Bally’s at the former Trump Golf Links Ferry Point in the Bronx, Caesars Entertainment and Jay-Z’s proposal for the heart of Times Square, and Las Vegas Sands in Nassau County.