There might be light at the end of the tunnel for NY Mets fans. On Friday, the beleaguered team won a double-header against the Yankees. On Saturday, fans discovered that billionaire Steve Cohen is in exclusive talks — again — to buy the Mets.
In a subway series for the ages, the Mets and Yankees kicked off a five-game series on Friday. Ultimately, this weekend might not be remembered for who won or lost, but for who finally wrestled Mets team ownership away from the Wilpons.
Cohen Could Win Mets in a Walk-Off
The contest to buy the Mets is clearly in overtime. During the last nine years, the Wilpon family has teed the team up for sale a number of times. The Wilpons, however, have a well-earned reputation for sabotaging deals at the last minute. But this time might be different.
According to CNBC’s David Faber, the Wilpons and hedge fund manager Steve Cohen are very close to a Mets transaction.
Steve Cohen has entered exclusive negotiations to buy the NY Mets and is expected to reach a deal to purchase the team within days, according to people familiar with the process. Other bidders, including the group led by Alex Rodriguez, are no longer in pursuit of the club.
— David Faber (@davidfaber) August 29, 2020
Financially strapped in the aftermath of the Madoff Ponzi scheme, the Wilpons nearly inked a deal with hedge fund manager David Einhorn. That deal collapsed in 2011. Since then, Cohen has been the Mets’ most tenacious suitor.
In 2012, Cohen secured a minority stake in the Mets. He currently owns 8% of the team. Cohen has tried to get a majority stake in the Mets, but to no avail.
Late last year, Cohen and the Wilpons were close to a deal, but it collapsed. A global pandemic isn’t an optimal time for a team sale. That, however, didn’t faze the Wilpons, who started pushing again for a sale in late March. While a number of bidders came forward, Cohen wasn’t initially among them.
Apparently, Cohen was just biding his time. At the last minute, rumors had him back in the hunt.
J-Lo and A-Rod Withdraw, But Not Quietly
The celebrity couple Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez were part of a consortium also bidding on the Mets. The group officially backed out of negotiations on Saturday after their “fully funded offer at a record price” didn’t sway the Wilpons.
“Alex and I are so disappointed!!,” Lopez wrote in Twitter. “We worked so hard the past 6 months with the dream of becoming the first minority couple and the first woman owner to buy her father’s favorite Major League Baseball team with her own hard earned money.”
The celebrity power of J-Lo and A-Rod is undeniable, but Cohen’s wallet is probably a more useful asset to the Mets. Besides, as an existing minority owner, Cohen should be able to gain the required approval of at least 23 MLB owners. That is, if the Wilpons don’t blow up the deal first.