Queens Rally Politicians for $8 Billion Metropolitan Park Casino Project

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In a recent push to ensure Queens stays relevant in the game of New York’s casino development scene, local politicians alongside the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) are urging State Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) to draft legislation, allowing the planned $8 billion Metropolitan Park to be competitive in the state’s casino bidding process.

The community is rallying support from political figures in a bid to change the fortune of Queens in the budding casino industry. Last year, State Rep. Jeff Aubry (D-Queens) was one of three signees on a letter to Ramos. He had launched a related bill within the New York Assembly. However, to move the bill forward, companion legislation is now needed.

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The area of interest, Willets Point, lies across from Citi Field and is currently classified as parkland. For Metropolitan Park and the Queens casino to realize their dream of setting up in the area, legislative change needs to take place that reclassifies this parkland area. Politics is not devoid of pressure, and if Ramos or another Senator does not step up to back the effort, the Queens casino plan has a risk of perishing in its infancy.

A soon-to-be-submitted Request For Applications (RFA) for Metropolitan Park will expose the detailed project’s plan to the public. This allows constituents to explore the pros and cons before making their own personal judgments through public hearings, as emphasized by Aubry, Queens Councilman Francisco Moya (D- 21st Council District) and borough President Donovan Richards (D) in their open letter to Ramos.

Investor interest in Queens comes from giants such as New York Mets owner Steve Cohen who is forming an alliance with Hard Rock International, all in hopes to bring a new gaming venue to the borough.

Presently, the eyes are on Ramos to act fast. With the legislative calendar winding down – effectively leaving just eight legislative days after Wednesday, the urgency for her to pass the ‘permitted use’ legislation is gaining momentum. Adding to the pressure, if bills encouraging a quicker bidding process are passed by her Democratic colleagues, Queens casino needs to uplift its status from a parkland designation in order to stay in the running.

The future of Willets Point hangs in balance. The area risks lying as a dormant parking lot for generations if legislation change does not come to its aid in time. The community in Queens is optimistic and enthusiastic about the prospective transformation, as voiced by the letter to Ramos – “The community wants Metropolitan Park.”

Support from Ramos could be the crucial push the Queens casino pitch needs to take off. As per consensus, if legislation is changed to fast-track the bidding process, MGM Resorts International’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Genting’s Resorts World New York in Queens are likely to significantly benefit, being established venues.

Meanwhile, rumors are flying regarding Las Vegas Sands’ desire to bring a casino hotel to Nassau Hub in Uniondale. Supposedly, they too could be winners if the proposed legislation prevails. Hence, the urgency for Ramos to throw her weight in favor of the bill supportive of Metropolitan Park takes on a new importance.

The lawmakers make a convincing case – ‘Metropolitan Park represents a golden opportunity to revamp the underused parking lots enveloping Citi Field into an innovative sports and entertainment park adorned with vast publicly accessible open space.’ The transformation promises to provide a huge economic boost to the area and usher in over 23,000 well-paying union jobs for the local residents.