Cohen’s Hard Rock Casino Complex Gains Support Of Local Councilman, But He Still Needs Ramos

Written By Grant Lucas on April 2, 2024
Councilman Francisco Moya threw his support for a Hard Rock casino complex from Steve Cohen

The $8 billion casino resort project pitched by billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has continued to garner support from local city officials.

The latest to jump on the bandwagon: Queens Councilman Francisco Moya.

Moya provided his endorsement for the proposed Hard Rock-branded Metropolitan Park, which would reside next to Citi Field.

“I wholeheartedly believe,” Moya said in a statement, reported by the New York Post, “that Metropolitan Park is in Queens’ and New York City’s best interest.”

While the proposal has gained steam in gaining necessary support, one key component remains up in the air.

Metropolitan Park a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ for Queens area

Moya represents several communities around Flushing Meadow Park and Willets Point, areas directly affected by the proposed Metropolitan Park, which could allow Hard Rock to join the New York online casino landscape if lawmakers legalize iGaming.

Having Moya’s backing is a significant element for Cohen to obtain one of the three downstate casino licenses. Each of the dozen or so proposals need local support before the Gaming Facility Location Board even considers its application.

When Cohen first released details of Metropolitan Park – spanning 50 acres and featuring a Hard Rock casino, hotel towers, restaurants and a music venue, among other amenities – he called the development proposal a sports and entertainment park that “the world’s greatest city … deserves.”

“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.”

Moya seems to have bought into that line of thinking.

“I am committed to advancing a New York City Council home rule message for the State to authorize the City of New York to seize this opportunity, by permitting additional uses on this land to facilitate the sports, entertainment, and recreational park,” Moya said, according to the New York Post.

He added:

“If we fail to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we ensure that the area around Citi Field remains underutilized parking lots for the foreseeable future; and we permanently stymie the future growth potential of Queens. Let’s not allow that to happen. I look forward to supporting this historic project and making Metropolitan Park a reality.”

Sen. Ramos still undecided on supporting Hard Rock casino

Moya emphasized that Metropolitan Park would become the “economic engine to drive people to the area year-round and create a world-class fan experience for the millions who come to Citi Field, the USTA Tennis Center, and all those who will soon be coming to cheer on the NYCFC.”

Yet while Moya’s support certainly represents a feather in the cap of Cohen, a bigger fish remains uninterested: Sen. Jessica Ramos.

In order for Cohen to move forward with the project, he will need the State Legislature to approve a law that would designate land around the field as park land. Ramos, though, has balked at doing so.

“I question the strategy here,” Ramos said in a statement to the New York Post. “This press release, the last minute press conference before my third town hall, the paid canvassers at my first town hall – these are not the open and transparent moves that I would expect from someone claiming to value real, honest community engagement.”

Photo by Hans Pennink / AP Photo
Grant Lucas Avatar
Written by
Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

View all posts by Grant Lucas
Privacy Policy