Ramos Strikes Out Cohen’s Casino, Pitches a Gaming-Free Park


By Jean Brannum | jbrannum2020@gmail.com

State Senator Jessica Ramos stated May 28 date that she would not support the proposed casino at the Metropolitan Park after months of thinking about the decision. 

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Ramos stated she would not introduce legislation for the casino and would support her drafted alternative for a Hard Rock hotel and convention center. She did admit that the profit would be less than a casino. 

Ramos affirmed her agreement with Steve Cohen, Mets owner who is trying to steam-roll the casino project, that Flushing and Corona need green space and jobs, but does not think a casino is the way to create it. 

“We disagree on the premise that we have to accept a casino in our backyard as the trade-off. I resent the conditions and the generations of neglect that have made many of us so desperate that we would be willing to settle,” Ramos stated. 

State Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubrey proposed legislation in March 2023 for the park with a casino. The bill named New Green Willets, Cohen’s lobbying company. 

Ramos proposed alternative legislation on the same day as her statement. The bill advocates for parkland without the Casino and proposes many of the same ideas proposed by Metropolitan Park including athletic fields, playgrounds, and an improved Mets-Willet’s Point subway station. 

Technically, Cohen’s plan is not impossible, but will be harder to get approval. Other state senators could introduce the plan to turn the parkland into a casino. 

The debate over a casino in the Willet’s Point parking lot has been a hotly debated issue for the region. Cohen pushed for the area to be the site of three new gaming facilities the state would license. Winners for the licenses will be announced in 2025.

The proposed Metropolitan Park will turn the CitiField Parking lot into a sports and entertainment complex featuring green space and an outdoor concert arena. Residents of the area hosted a rally on May 13 in support of the project saying it would bring jobs and much-needed greenery to the area. The company created the plans for the park with over 500 community members. 

Karl Rickett, a Metropolitan Park spokesperson sent the following statement in response to the decision. 

“While we respect Senator Ramos’s point of view, the state never intended any one person to have the ability to single-handedly stop or approve a gaming project. As Metropolitan Park enjoys overwhelming support from elected officials, unions, and the local community we are confident that we have the best project in the best location. We have over a year and multiple pathways to secure the required approvals.  Our team remains committed to bringing Metropolitan Park to life, with gaming as the only viable economic engine to make the 23,000 jobs, $8 Billion investment, and substantial community benefits possible.”

In a tweet, Queensborough President Donovan Richards said that no elected official should be the only one to decide on an $8 billion investment and urged Governor Hochul and the state senate to explore other ways to remodel the parkland. 

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