New York Mets owner Steve Cohen wants to bring a casino to Citi Field and is cozying up to some important local politicians, including Mayor Eric Adams, to drive forward that effort.
In January, Cohen hosted Adams and other city hall officials at the home ballpark of the Mets where he laid out plans for Willets Point — a notoriously tough to develop 61-acre plot of land across the street from the stadium, reports The City. One of Cohen’s proposals included plans for a casino.
News of Cohen’s courtship of Adams and other elected leaders on the casino idea emerges as New York is currently considering a new state budget, which includes gaming details. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is supportive of awarding three casino permits in the downstate area, which includes New York City, Orange, Rockland, and Westchester counties; and Long Island.
That doesn’t necessarily mean three new gaming venues will open. It’s widely expected that if New York policymakers sign off on gaming expansion, the plan will allow MGM Resorts’ Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World New York City (RWNY) in Queens to add table games and retail sportsbooks to their current slots-only menus while one more license could be awarded to a company currently not operating in the city.
Cohen Comfortable Dealing with Adams
Cohen, who is worth nearly $12 billion, hasn’t even owned the Mets for two years, but he’s already comfortable in the hard scrabble world of New York City politics.
He was a major contributor to Adams’ 2021 mayoral run. More recently, Mets officials pressed the mayor’s office to lift the coronavirus vaccine mandate that applied to professional athletes playing games in the city. Adams played ball, frustrating local parents whose toddlers and young children are forced to wear masks in daycare and at pre-k schools.
In January, Cohen formed New Green Willets to lobby city and state officials on the Citi Field casino issue. Officially, that entity is tied to Poin72 Asset Management — Cohen’s family office. Vincent Tortorella, the general counsel of Point 72, is listed as the principal of New Green Willets, reports The City.
The firm subsequently retained two local lobbying shops, paying each $20,000, to press local leaders on the casino matter.
Cohen’s deep pockets aside, it’s likely to be an uphill battle to develop the Willets Point land, of which 23 acres are owned by the city. Various efforts dating back as far as the mid-1960s for the property failed and that doesn’t account for opposition to a casino among some locals.
Las Vegas Sands May Be Lurking
As for the operator that could run the gaming venue adjacent to Citi Field, it could well be a familiar name: Las Vegas Sands. Reports surfaced last October that LVS is the company Cohen is taking to regarding the project.
Previously, it was reported that Bally’s and Wynn Resorts would vie with Sands for the third New York license. But those operators haven’t publicly commented on the matter, while LVS CEO Rob Goldstein confirmed to the New York Post last year the company is looking at New York City.
Currently, Sands has no integrated resorts in the US.
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