New York Mets owner Steve Cohen is pushing for a casino to be built near or even in the parking lot of Citi Field. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Push the envelope
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen’s plan to establish a casino near Citi Field could be thwarted by a minor legal provision.
both state law and the Mets agreement will be major roadblocks
Cohen has already spent six figures lobbying officials as part of his drive to build a nearby gaming center. However, both the state law and the Mets agreement will be major roadblocks, according to The City.
New York’s National League baseball franchise must figure out how to get around the rules for parking lots and buildings on park land. If they can’t, then the dreams of building a new casino may end.
The New York Mets, Similarities and Precedents
Cohen’s dream to launch a gambling venue came together after Governor Kathy Hochul proposed creating three more casino licenses.
The Mets owner has focused on the Willets Point neighborhood as the center for the proposed business. Times Square, Hudson Yards and Coney Island have also been considered by other developers.
According to The City, Cohen came up with the idea of a casino near the stadium as early as January. However, his idea of bridging Willets Point by the ballpark by placing the facility in the middle of the team’s parking lot can be legally dismissed.
the “public trust doctrine”, which prohibits private developers from building on public land
Building on parking lots would violate the “public trust doctrine,” which prohibits private developers from building on public land. State legislators would only allow construction to proceed if they vote to lift the rule.
Fortunately for Mets fans and gamblers alike, the organization has a history of grappling with legal pitfalls. In the early 1960s, the team’s former stomping ground, Shea Stadium, was built on land owned by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
However, the Mets’ 2017 attempt to build a mall over the parking lot failed. The State Court of Appeals dealt the fatal blow, citing the public trust doctrine as justification.
Legality and feasibility
The doctrine of public trust isn’t the only roadblock preventing the Mets from developing a casino. Each building in the parking lot would reduce the number of parking spaces, slowing the team’s repayment of hundreds of millions of dollars in municipal bonds tied to parking revenues.
People who are aware of the situation say that any adjustments to the parking lot will require adjustments to the financing agreements, according to De Stad. The team would also be forced to build parking decks to make up for the lost space.
QBC agreed to keep at least a dozen parking spaces around the stadium
Queens Ballpark Company LLC, the official owner of the Mets and Citi Field, leases the land from the city. Under a deal made by former owner Fred Wilpon, QBC agreed to retain at least a dozen parking spaces around the stadium and receive about $650 million in bond financing, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
A 2017 audit found that the team pays its base rent based on a formula that tracks parking and non-parking revenues against projected revenues.
A spokesperson for Cohen said he is still weighing his options on the matter.
“Steve sees owning the Mets as a social responsibility and has made investment in the team, the margin and the community his top priority,” Tiffany Galvin-Cohen, not related to the Mets owner, told The City in a statement. declaration. “Steve remains engaged and listens to stakeholders. Any strategic vision for the area will aim to revitalize the neighborhood and improve the experience for Mets fans.”
In the meantime, Cohen is gearing up for a huge development boost. Affiliates at his financial firm Point72 created a limited liability company called New Green Willets.
Since its inception, New Green Willets has lobbied lawmakers and pledged money for development at Willets Point.
The district has 23 hectares of state-owned land, which is currently undergoing a major makeover, as well as 40 hectares of private land. If the owner wants to buy privately, it is expected that he will have to wait a few years because environmental standards are met.
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