Cohen Launches Campaign Effort Geared Toward Garnering Community Support Of Metropolitan Park

Written By Grant Lucas on May 2, 2024
Exterior of Citi Field for a story on Steve Cohen adjusting his approach to garnering support of Metropolitan Park to potentially sway Jessica Ramos on the Hard Rock casino project.

If Steve Cohen has any true hope of developing a Hard Rock casino near Citi Field, he’ll need the support of a local lawmaker in Sen. Jessica Ramos.

Ramos remains on the fence about introducing legislation to ease land-use restrictions around the stadium. But rather than attempt to persuade Ramos directly, it appears Cohen has turned his attention to her constituents.

As reported by Politico, the billionaire New York Mets owner and his team of consultants and lobbyists have launched a nine-month campaign effort to earn support from Queens-area citizens, all constituents of Ramos.

Cohen turns to residents for support of Hard Rock casino project

Cohen has an extensive proposal to earn one of three downstate casino licenses – which could become a way to offer online casinos in New York once lawmakers authorize them – called Metropolitan Park that features a casino from Hard Rock.

One of the key hurdles to clear, however, is legislation from Ramos to ease land-use restrictions around Citi Field. But Ramos has remained hesitant to do so.

So, Cohen and his team has turned to the citizens.

According to Politico, community outreach will start in the Corona, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights neighborhoods and will then stretch further across the borough.

Part of this plan includes mailers and multilingual ads on Facebook and Instagram. The aim, as Politico noted, is “to create excitement about the project that Cohen’s team can tap into if [Ramos] opts not to support it.”

“For two years, we’ve worked closely with the community and our local elected officials, including Senator Ramos, as we’ve developed a vision for Metropolitan Park, and we will continue to do so,” Karl Rickett, a spokesperson for Metropolitan Park, said in a statement to Politico. “If she ultimately chooses not to introduce legislation in this session, we have both time and multiple pathways to get this done.”

Rickett added:

“The more people learn about Metropolitan Park, the more they support it, which is why we will continue to communicate our shared vision and the economic impact it will have on our neighbors.”

Ramos could announce decision next month

In several ways, the Metropolitan Park proposal appears to have strong support around the community.

As noted by Politico, an online petition called the projected as “a vision to transform the asphalt parking lots around Citi Field into a revolutionary sports and entertainment park.”

On top of that, some 50 restaurant and small business owners around Corona, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst signed a letter asking that Ramos back Metropolitan Park.

Jessica Rico, owner of Mojitos Restaurant & Bar, told QNS that Ramos should endorse the “marvelous project,” which would create thousands of new jobs and improve the business community around Citi Field.

“We see a good opportunity for us,” Rico told QNS. “All year more tourists [would be] around here, it’s a good impact on all the small businesses in the area, so we hope she supports the project.”

In turn, Ramos confirmed she received the letter and will consider it “alongside all the other community feedback.” The senator indicated to Politico that she will make a decision next month.

“It is so important for us because she is part of the community so we hope she supports the project,” Rico said.

“This area is amazing. Now we can show you this special area that we have here in Queens. Hopefully, this project will be a reality with the support of Jessica, hopefully. Let’s see what happens.”

Photo by Kathy Willens / AP Photo
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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.

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