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Morning Spew

It’s Wednesday and NYC Is Gambling With Queens Again

The world’s borough gets another stadium (and casino?)

9:48 AM EST on November 16, 2022

Let’s check in on this “concept” in a few years, yeah? (Original rendering by S9 Architecture)

For over a decade the fate of Willets Point has been in limbo. After the Bloomberg administration evicted a thriving small business district (monumentally failing to follow through with promised relocation), the Wilpons, the cash-strapped Ponzi-schemed owners of the Mets, tried to delay building affordable housing on the post-industrial site that was undergoing years of remediation. 

First, their plan was to build a mall on the current Mets parking lot, with the parking lot then moved over to Willets Point (note the lack of immediate affordable housing in this plan). Then, when a state court ruled that the plan was illegal, the de Blasio administration went back to the drawing board to try to get some housing and a school on the site. De Blasio only got so far as remediating a part of the land before leaving office. 

Now, there finally seems to be a real plan for Willets Point, and it won’t come to a shock for anyone familiar with the history of development in Queens: it’s a sports stadium. 

The New York Times reports that NYCFC, a Major League Soccer team owned by the Emirati royal family, that has been playing sad games of soccer in Yankee Stadium (we’ve been there, it’s sad, don’t lie to us), intends to build a 20,000 seat stadium in Willets Point. Connected to that project would be an additional 2,500 units of affordable housing and a hotel, in part developed by the former owners of the Mets. Mayor Eric Adams is set to announce the project in Flushing today, touting the fact that NYCFC ownership will pay for the stadium (and will not pay real estate taxes in exchange—maybe the Emiratis are hard up for cash?). 

The current plan wouldn’t use up the entirety of the site—and the Times reports there’s a very real possibility that one of New York City’s imminent casinos will be placed there (current Mets owner and insider-trading hedge fund guy Steven Cohen has been angling for one). With Aqueduct’s casino just down the Van Wyck, and stadiums already massed on either side of the 7 train, the project reeks of both desperation (we need to do something!) and a powerful tendency in New York City politics: dump stadiums, gambling, and vapid retail in the middle of Queens, as if it was still the ash heap it was before. 

Hey, at least there’s housing—but we’ll believe it when we see it. 

Here are some links to start your Wednesday:

And finally, we heartily recommend watching this: 

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