Looks like the Wilpons are stepping up their game from gambling on idiotic player contracts to gambling on casinos near Citi Field. It turns out the Mets' owners' Sterling Equities is part of a winning bid to develop a shopping and entertainment center in Willets Point—and it could potentially include a casino.
The city has been looking to develop Willets Point for years. According to A Walk In the Park, the city selected a plan from "Related Companies, and Sterling Equities, the owner of the New York Mets. Their proposal included not just a 900,000-square-foot casino but a shopping mall and 'premium' hotel tower, all part of a massive 3.2 million-square-foot 'sports and entertainment' complex on parkland west of CitiField's parking lot."
However, real "live-dealer" casinos are not allowed in New York—though Albany is debating the issue, and Cuomo's not opposed to one in NYC—so the plan handily also involves the Shinnecock Indian tribe.
The Post reports:
City officials pulled the casino from the Willets Point plan partly because they thought the government-approval process would take too long, sources said. However, a city spokesman declined to comment when asked if the city would push for a casino there if the state Legislature eventually backs it.
The Mets declined to comment, but a spokesman for Sterling-Related said it’s “focused” on the project the mayor endorsed. Although Sterling Equities wouldn’t directly operate or build the casino, any investment by the Mets’ owners in such a venture could raise eyebrows, considering Major League Baseball’s tough antigambling policies.
A spokesperson for the NYC Economic Development Corporation told the Post the casino isn't part of the plan, "A different plan is now moving through the approvals process for a project that will create a dynamic new destination, hundreds of units of affordable housing, and thousands of jobs."
Update: NYC EDC spokesman Nick Kelly says, "There is no casino being built at Willets Point, period. A proposal in 2011 that included a gaming use was rejected. And the agreement with the Queens Development Group to clean up and transform this long-blighted area into a dynamic, mixed-use district expressly prohibits any gaming uses. We look forward to continuing the public approvals process for this critical project that will remediate over 20 acres of toxic land and create thousands of jobs, hundreds of affordable housing units and billions in economic activity."
And the Queens Development Group, which is the joint venture between Sterling and Related Companies, says, "An initial concept submitted two years ago floated the possibility of Indian gaming and was dismissed by the city. Our plans for Willets Point DO NOT include an Indian or commercial casino, which is illegal. 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. 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."