NY bill would clear land near Citi Field for downstate casino use

Citi Field with a Willets Point subway stop sign in the foreground
Image: Shutterstock

The New York state legislature won’t be deciding which applicants will receive one of the forthcoming downstate casino licenses in the state, but one lawmaker is trying to clear the path for a potential contender.

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, whose district is in Queens, introduced A5688, which would discontinue the parkland status of the land adjacent to Citi Field and authorize a casino to be built on the acreage.

The area, known as Flushing Meadows Corona Park, consists of around 50 acres near surrounding the home of the New York Mets MLB franchise. The area is designated as a public park but actually consists of asphalt, as it has been used as a parking lot dating back to 1939 and is also the former site of Shea Stadium.

Some of the land has already been earmarked for a new stadium for the NYCFC MLS team as well as some housing developments, but the bill delineates a specific area of the space for a casino resort.

The bill would allow for the land to be commercialized, which is something many in the Queens borough are fighting against. Earlier this year, civic leaders gathered to protest against the idea, and against the idea of a casino in particular.

Mets owner Steve Cohen has announced his intentions to develop the land and even sought the opinions of Queens residents earlier this year. However, details about such a bid have not been released yet. One rumor was that Cohen might partner with Hard Rock to put forward a bid.

The NY Post has also reported that Cohen is spending quite a bit of money on lobbying through his New Green Willets LLC and spending quite a bit of time meeting with state and local lawmakers before officially putting a project forward.

The bill currently sits with the Cities Committee. There has been no action beyond assigning it to a committee so far.