Multimillionaire investor Steve Cohen is now the proud owner of the New York Mets. Cohen just pulled out his checkbook and paid $2.475 billion for the team acquisition.
After a protracted bidding process, he will become the owner, but not before getting approval from MLB. According to the baseball wires, that won’t be a problem.
The Mets Change Hands
Cohen has agreed to buy 95% of the franchise from the Wilpon and Katz families. The purchase process might be somewhat difficult, even if it ends up the way Cohen and the Mets expect. Cohen needs 23 votes from 29 of the existing team owners to complete the deal. So far, based on what the rumor mill says, there are only two possible opponents to the acquisition. Only one of those is known at this time.
Cohen’s acquisition outsmarted the previous league record of $2.15 billion that the Guggenheim Group paid back in 2012 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The enormous $2.475 billion price tag doesn’t cover the Mets’ regional television network, known as SNY, and it’s doubtful that Cohen will be able to add it at a later date.
Steve Greenberg, who represents the Met’s ownership group for Allen & Company, was responsible for making possible the most important (and most expensive) sale of a sports franchise in US sports history. Greenberg told USA Today Sports, “I’ve never known anyone to buy a sports team who thought he wasn’t paying too much.’’ He added, “On the other hand, I’ve never known anyone who wasn’t glad he did it five years later.’’
Greenberg had a previous business relationship with Cohen when he represented him in his offer to purchase the Dodgers in 2012. Greenberg stated that Fred Wilpon knew of their relationship, and strongly rejects any possible favoritism. Greenberg explains, “I’m an agent acting on behalf of a client [Fred Wilpon]. Sometimes you take heat, whether you’re a lawyer, banker or a businessman to accomplish a task. If you get banged around a little bit for that, that’s part of your job. I’m not the one making decisions, I’m an agent carrying out decisions. I was just trying to get the best result for my client.’’
Cohen’s Checkered Past
According to some sources, certain owners are not happy about Cohen’s purchase. The New York Daily News states that Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf is one of the guys against Cohen, but it’s unclear what his concerns are at this point. However, three main aspects were identified as being of some concern to the opposition.
Cohen and the fund he was in charge of, SAC Capital Advisors, was investigated and sanctioned for issues concerning insider trading. But Cohen was never found responsible. The actual fund he is currently operating, Point72 Asset Management, has been accused of promoting a negative work culture and one of unfair pay for female employees. Furthermore, Cohen’s last bid for the Mets last year resulted confusing. Because of these reasons, some owners say that Cohen is not their favorite guy.
Despite these accusations, it’s difficult for owners to deny such a profitable offer of more than $2.4 billion. It will definitely have a huge impact on all franchise values. Cohen will go through an approval process within the next ten days handled by the MLB ownership subcommittee. The clubs’ owners are set to meet on November 17-19 in Arlington, Texas, and chances are good that a vote will be held before the gatherings.
A Positive Move For The Mets
In the meantime, Mets lovers are delighted with the idea that Cohen’s extensive wealth will put an end to the team’s bad luck, having only participated in three playoffs series since 2001. Fans believe this new owner will become a savior for the club. However, Greenberg thinks that Cohen’s vision goes beyond writing checks and bloating payroll. He explains, “The days of the free-spending owner being the perennial winner are in the past, honestly,’’ Greenberg adds. “In my experience, the smartest owner with the best organization and front office, proves out to be the long-term winner.”
He adds, “Sure, it helps to have money, but look at what Tampa has done, too. If I was a fan, I’m not hoping that I get an owner that will spend wildly. I’d be worried about who brings in the best GM, scouts and development staff.”
Only time will tell how Cohen decides to run the show. He’s been chomping at the bit to get his hands on a pro team and, now that he has, anything is possible.