Mets Owners Proposed Casino In ‘Initial Concept’ For Willets Point
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Baseball and blackjack?
The owners of the Mets were all in on a 2011 proposal for a casino next to Citi Field, only to be rejected by the Bloomberg administration.
Sterling Equities wanted to bring “a massive casino with gaming tables and slots,” a 500-room hotel and 1.8 million square feet of retail space to a 62-acre site at Willets Point in Queens, the New York Post reported Monday.
Fred Wilpon & Co. offered $100 million for the acreage and had the Shinnecock Indian Nation “signed on to operate the casino,” according to the paper.
In a statement to CBSNewYork.com, the Queens Development Group confirmed the “initial concept submitted two years ago floated the possibility of Indian gaming and was dismissed by the city.”
The Queens Development Group is the joint entity formed by Related Companies and Sterling, which owns the Mets.
“Our plans for Willets Point DO NOT include an Indian or commercial casino, which is illegal,” the Queens Development Group said in the statement. “Even if it were legal, it would not be allowed under the environmental process we are undertaking and our agreement with the City prohibits this use.”
In June, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a multi-billion dollar makeover for Willets Point, a development plan which calls for a 1 million square-foot mall, hotel, market rate and affordable apartments and office space.
In other words, no casino.
“The $3 billion investment we are making in Willets Point will clean up land that has experienced a century of environmental contamination and will result in a mixed-use community that will create thousands of jobs, affordable housing and significant economic activity for the area,” the Queens Development Group said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature are considering a constitutional amendment to bring legalized casino gambling to New York. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has touted locations like Willets Point and Coney Island in Brooklyn.
City officials rejected the casino plan “partly because they thought the government-approval process would take too long,” according to the Post.
Another big question: Would Major League Baseball allow it? Though Sterling would not “directly operate or build the casino,” a gambling location linked to the Mets would “ultimately be (MLB) Commissioner Bud Selig’s call,” the Post reported.
The casino proposal was reportedly made in Sept. 2011, while trustee Irving Picard was bringing a mega-bucks lawsuit against the Mets for the victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. The sides settled for $162 million in 2012.
Would you be OK with a casino at Willets Point? Be heard in the comments!