Steve Cohen’s deal to buy the New York Mets could die even if he’s approved by MLB and the other owners thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Bill de Blasio has a say in the sale of the New York Mets. When the Wilpons signed their 2006 lease agreement with the city for Citi Field, they added in a clause that could give the Mayor a voice. This clause only triggers if the person trying to buy the Mets has committed a felony.
Of course, in 2006, nobody thought this would be an issue. But in 2020, it’s now given Mayor de Blasio complete control over the potential sale of the Mets.
Steve Cohen has never been found guilty of a felony. However, his company, SAC Financial, pleaded guilty to securities and wire fraud. That puts Cohen on the prohibited buyers’ list.
With the MLB Ownership committee approving the sale to Cohen on Tuesday, the clock started ticking on de Blasio. His office now has 30 days to vet Cohen and make a decision on the potential sale.
The Mayor’s press secretary told Nightengale, “The Mayor has an obligation to the people of New York City to closely examine new leases on culturally important and incredibly valuable city-owned land.”
The Mayor now holds all the cards in the sale. Even if Cohen is approved by MLB and the other owners, de Blasio can reject the sale. If de Blasio’s office feels they need more time to properly vet Cohen, they could put a hold on the sale, which could be enough to force the Wilpons to re-open the bidding.
Alex Rodriguez is waiting in the wings hoping for Cohen’s deal to crumble. Now, one of his closest allies has the final say on the matter.
Mayor de Blasio publicly announced his support for Rodriguez’s bid to buy the team just two months ago. He’s now in the position to make that happen.
That doesn’t mean de Blasio is going to deny Cohen’s bid. This is a complicated issue and any move de Blasio makes to block the sale would be under heavy scrutiny. However, it’s impossible to look past his connection to one of the parties heavily involved in the sale process.