Citi Field Casino Supporters Put Pressure on Ramos with Rally Outside Office

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Edward Scimia

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Edward Scimia

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Last Updated 15th May 2024, 01:32 PM

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Citi Field Casino Supporters Put Pressure on Ramos with Rally Outside Office

New York State Senator Jessica Ramos remains a key figure in the debate over the Metropolitan Park proposal. (Image: ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy)

Senator Ramos has emerged as a major roadblock in Cohen’s plan. Because the area where the casino location would be built is considered parkland, the state legislature would have to pass an alienation bill to develop the parking lots.

Traditionally, the legislature has only approved such a move if both the local Senate and Assembly members representing the local community support it. And while State Assemblyman Jeff Aubry (D-Corona) is in favor of Metropolitan Park in New York, Ramos remains skeptical.

Many of those gathered in the audience touted the economic benefits they believe would come if Metropolitan Park was approved.

“We deserve to have this project, we deserve 24,000 union jobs,” Aaliyah Scott, a student, said during the rally. “Jessica [Ramos], we are calling out to you. We love you, but we need your help and without you, this cannot go through.”

When selling the Metropolitan Park proposal to locals, Cohen has emphasized aspects of the development that go well beyond the casino, such as a 25-acre park, hotels, a music venue, and nearly half a billion dollars to improve the nearby train and subway stations. 

Some of those at the rally did the same, talking about the additional benefits the community would see from the project.

“This project will bring amazing infrastructure projects to the area,” transit advocate Jim Burke said. “You’re going to have a subway station that’s going to look world-class. You’re going to have lighting and a two-way bike lane along Roosevelt Avenue.”

Others simply said they’re tired of seeing the area near Citi Field go to waste.

“For 85 years, the area around Citi Field has been a complete parking lot. It’s just asphalt. We want this to change,” Olga Reyes, who organized the rally for the Coalition for Queens Advancement, told reporters. 

“Why can’t our children have a place to go and a green space? Why can’t we take them to a concert without traveling an hour and a half in traffic?”

Ramos and Cohen Offer Dueling Casino Perspectives

For her part, Senator Ramos said she’s focusing on what she thinks is best for the people of her district.

“Steve Cohen is doing his job trying to win support for his casino bid, and I’m doing mine in Albany representing my constituents,” Ramos said in a statement released prior to the rally.

Ramos and Cohen have been sparring over Metropolitan Park for over a year, and both say they have the local public behind them. In early April, a Ramos donor funded a poll that found that 75 percent of local residents were against having a casino in their neighborhood. 

Days later, Cohen released his own poll that showed 62 percent of voters in Ramos’ district were for his proposal.

Even if Ramos ultimately signs off on the casino complex, Metropolitan Park still faces a fierce fight for a casino license. 

Nearly a dozen different groups are seeking to earn one of three licenses from the state, each of which comes with a $500 million upfront fee. The New York State Gaming Commission expects to award the licenses by the end of 2025.

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Edward Scimia
Edward Scimia
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Ed Scimia is a freelance writer who has been covering the gaming industry since 2008. He graduated from Syracuse University in 2003 with degrees in Magazine Journalism and Political Science. In his time as a freelancer, Ed has worked for About.com, Gambling.com, and Covers.com, among other sites. He has also authored multiple books and enjoys curling competitively, which has led to him creating curling-related content for his YouTube channel "Chess on Ice."

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