The New York Mets owner, Steve Cohen, has announced plans to replace the parking lot outside Citi Field with a Hard Rock casino, green space, and bike lanes. This proposal for the area, which will be known as Metropolitan Park, also includes a public park, a public plaza, and a tailgating area.
The biking plan involves installing bike lanes on Roosevelt Avenue and Boat Basin Place. However, there are concerns about the safety of pedestrian connections to the stadium, particularly for those coming from 34th Avenue crossing the Grand Central Parkway.
Cohen also seeks to renovate and make the train station more accessible as part of the project. There is uncertainty about who will pay for the accessibility upgrades and renovations to the Mets-Willets Point 7 and Long Island Railroad stops. There is also hope that Citi Bike docks will be installed by Opening Day 2024.
There is some opposition to the plan as participants in public visioning sessions ranked “gaming” as a low priority for the area, with many preferring alternative ideas such as bringing back the Jets. Additionally, the plan requires approval from state legislators in order to remove the parking lot from Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
Cohen is also competing with others to acquire one of three casino licenses in the downstate region, with the result potentially affecting the future of the MTA. Assembly Member Jeffrey Aubrion has introduced legislation to clear the way for construction on the parking lot, but there are still hurdles to overcome.
State Sen. Jessica Ramos remains skeptical of the proposal and is seeking community input before making a decision. Meanwhile, the Economic Development Corporation is planning to replace the auto body shops in Willets Point with affordable housing, a school, and a soccer stadium.
Cohen’s ambitious redevelopment plans show significant potential for transforming the area around Citi Field, but they also face significant challenges and opposition from various stakeholders.