News about a potential sale of the New York Mets has been heating up. Here’s all you need to know about the race to rule Queens.
New York Mets fans were shocked when the Wilpons announced they were selling the team in December of 2019. The deal would have seen Wall Street mogul Steve Cohen purchase the team for an MLB record $2.6 billion.
That deal wound up falling apart due to a five-year window of ownership. The Wilpons wanted five more years in control of the franchise and Cohen hated that idea. So, Cohen tried to change the deal at the last minute and everything fell apart.
That hasn’t stopped the Wilpons from looking for new buyers. Debt has piled up for the kings of Queens and they can no longer afford to run the team. The Mets are losing tens of millions every season and the Wilpons are having debts called in by banks. It’s gotten to the point that the Wilpons had to leverage everything they had just to make the payment on Citi Field.
That’s why they’ve hired Allen and Co. to help them sell the team. The investment bank has helped multiple sports franchises find new owners. The most recent example is the Buffalo Bills.
That was in February. It’s been over four months and the news of potential buyers has been relatively quiet. Some names have popped up, but no news of any actual bids. The biggest news around is potential buyers adding investors, which can make the process confusing and hard to follow.
The aim of this article is to clear confusion and show fans where the bidders currently stand.
4. Steve Cohen
Steve Cohen’s name continues to linger in the race to purchase the Mets. Investors know that he still wants the team. He grew up a Mets fan and he doesn’t want his dream of owning the team to end because one deal fell through.
Despite that, it’s hard to see a world where Cohen ends up with the team. The Wilpons will almost certainly never deal with him again. That makes any return for Cohen unlikely despite rumors that he continues to lurk around.
The only way Cohen is able to walk away with the team is if the Wilpons don’t sell. That would lead to them losing the franchise due to their inability to make payments on payroll and the stadium. If that were to come to pass the franchise would be put up for auction.
In that case, Cohen and his $13.7 billion net worth would be unmatched. He would likely walk away with the team and potentially at a discount.
However, the odds of the sale getting to that point seem to be slim to none at this point. That could all change if the Wilpons are stubborn about their price point and continue to refuse to sell SNY.
3. The Reuben Brothers
The Reuben brothers are the latest entrants into the race. The London based real estate moguls are the wealthiest potential bidders. Their net worth of $14 billion is staggering and would allow them to purchase the team with no difficulty.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that the New York Post reported that a mystery international bidder was gaining steam. With money like that, they could meet any demand the Wilpons have.
The issue here is that the Reuben brothers don’t seem to actually want to buy the Mets. According to Josh Kosman, Thornton McEnery, and Jennifer Gould of the New York Post, the brothers are more interested in the land around Citi Field then actually purchasing the Mets.
This could be the way the Wilpons stay afloat as they await better offers for the franchise. Selling the extra real estate could give them enough liquid capital that they could afford to run the team for a little while longer.
This plan would come at the expense of fans. The Wilpons would likely slash payroll and refuse to spend on free agents. It could mean their championship window closes before it even opened.
This is still a backup plan for the Wilpons. They want to sell the team because it would give them the most liquid capital. It would help them pay off their debts and make sure they stay above water financially for the foreseeable future.
That said, don’t count out this backup plan. The Wilpons have come close to selling numerous times only to find a way to maintain control.
When Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez announced they were making a run at purchasing the Mets, most people didn’t take it seriously. It was a stunt by big names that would never actually come together. For a while, that seemed to be the case.
That’s changed since the beginning of quarantine. The power couple is willing to pour hundreds of millions of their own money into this bid and they’re looking for potential investors who are willing to do the same.
J-Rod are not happy being the small partners with a CEO role. They want to be the managing partners in their bid. So, they’re not willing to let a big-money investor take over their bid. Instead, they’re looking for big-money investors who are willing to be their equals.
They’ve found two investors who are willing to meet those conditions in Mike Repole and Vincent Viola. According to the New York Post, Repole and Viola are deep in talks to invest a combined $250 million into J-Rod’s bid.
That would give the couple a bid in the $500 million range, which is nowhere near enough. They’re still around $1 billion short of what they need for a competitive bid.
Their ownership group is likely to be filled with a number of big-name investors making smaller investments. That’s going to make building the group incredibly difficult.
With two major investors like Repole and Viola on board though, it could make finding others easier. It’s always easier to convince someone to invest when other big names are already investing.
Still, it’s impossible to call them the frontrunners when their bid is still far from complete.
1. Harris and Blitzer
The current front-runners are Josh Harris and David Blitzer. The pair already own the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils. The pair also own minority shares of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Crystal Palace. They’ve now turned their attention to the Mets.
Harris and Blitzer are worth about $7 billion combined. They have more than enough money to put together a real bid. That is, if they want to.
The pair are often called vultures by investment bankers. They prefer to buy distressed properties that are mired in debt at incredibly low prices. That way they can make massive profits when they eventually turn the franchise around.
The Mets currently fit that description to a tee. However, the Wilpons aren’t likely to want to sell the team at a huge discount. They’re reportedly still looking to sell the team for around $1.5 to $2 billion. That would likely be too rich for Harris and Blitzer’s blood.
So why are Harris and Blitzer the frontrunners if they aren’t willing to spend the money? Well, they might not have any real competition.
If J-Rod can’t put together enough capital and the Reuben brothers are more interested in real estate than the franchise, then they don’t have any real competition. That would mean the Wilpons would have no choice but to sell the team for an incredibly discounted price.
This dynamic is quickly changing as more names enter the picture and J-Rod begin to pick up investors. This race to buy the New York Mets is likely still at the starting point, but it’s clear that Harris and Blitzer are the quickest out of the gate.