CITI FIELD (PIX11) – The Major League Baseball Home Run Derby and All-Star game at Citi Field in Queens is not just about celebrating America’s pastime in the company of family and good friends.
It’s also about money – and a lot of it.
If you’ve visited 126th street, on the less glitzy – and apparently more contentious side of Citi Field — you’ll see all of those All Star dollars are most likely not flowing right across the street through the string of busy auto care shops in what’s commonly referred to as the “Iron Triangle” of Willets Point.
You won’t starve, go thirsty, or go bored inside CitiField.
But once you leave the building all the buzz and the business is across the river in Manhattan.
In fact the Westin, on 42nd street, is the official hotel for this year’s All-Star game — right next door to PIX11’s newsroom.
Muffler shop owner Wais Mohibi says Queens is losing out big time on an economic opportunity — and so is he.
“Every time Citi Field throws something – a party or a baseball or whatever it is — it affects us in a way because of traffic jams. Customers cannot get here. They don’t want to come here to get their job done. So basically what happens to me is instead of getting 15 customers, I get two or three customers,” Mohibi told PIX11.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation – in a partnership with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall — is working on a solution that may please Citi Field’s customers, but doesn’t necessarily sit well with the business owners across the street.
The plan includes $3 billion in new private investment that would relocate the shop owners to make way for a sprawling new mall project.
Marshall tells PIX11, while Major League and Mets officials have been generous with their time and charity dollars, quote, “We know that there is a certain amount of ‘Manhattanitis’ surrounding events related to the All Star Game in Queens.”
Marshall adds, “We understand that visitors may want to experience Manhattan over the course of their visit, but we do ask that they consider eating a meal here, shopping in a store, or visiting other attractions in addition to Citi Field.”