- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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The owners of the New York Mets reportedly wanted to take a gamble on owning a casino next to Citi Field, the home of their major league club.
Sterling Equities, the real estate company operated by Mets owner Fred Wilpon and family, pitched a casino adjacent to the major league stadium in September 2011 and offered the City of New York $100 million to acquire 62 acres for the site, the New York Post reported Tuesday.
Sterling Equities even lined up the Shinnecock Indian nation to operate the casino, but a live-dealer casino is not legal in New York except on tribal lands, making it infeasible at that point, according to the report.
Sterling Equities was instead given 23 of the 62 requested acres in June to construct a $3 billion entertainment complex -- minus the casino.
"An initial concept submitted two years ago floated the possibility of Indian gaming and was dismissed by the city," read a statement from the Queens Development Group --- the joint venture between Sterling Equities and related companies.
"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."
The pitch for the casino was being delivered during the height of the Mets owners' financial troubles related to Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. The owners since have favorably settled a lawsuit that sought to recover funds from them for allegedly profiting from the Ponzi scheme.
The Mets declined to comment on the casino report.
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