Potential sale of New York Mets to Steve Cohen falls through
If New York Mets fans are indeed envious of their neighbors who root for the New York Yankees, it is understandable. The Yankees have won 27 championships in the team’s 106 years (approximately one championship every four years) while the Mets have won two championships in their 57 years of existence (approximately one championship every 30 years).
The Yankees’ most recent dynasty, that of the 1990s, can be largely attributed to the willingness of their late owner, George Steinbrenner, known as “the Boss,” to spend whatever amount of money it would take to obtain the best talent, allowing the Yankees the best chance to win. Yankee spending has proven to be good business. Since 1973, when Steinbrenner acquired the team, to the present, and with the team presently run by his son, Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees have surpassed the Mets in attendance for 35 of the past 47 years and in each of the past 27 straight years, according to the Baseball Almanac published data.
The Mets, while competitive in recent years, have been less successful than their crosstown rivals, at least in part due to the financial constraints of their current owners. This has caused resentment by the fans and many hope that the current owners, the Wilpon family, would sell the team to new owners with “deeper pockets” who could afford to stock the team with the best talent.
The Mets’ owners’ desire to sell and the background of the Wilpon’s financial difficulties was chronicled in a Dec. 12, 2019 Bloomberg article. The Mets ‘principle owner, Fred Wilpon, who acquired an ownership interest in the Mets in 1986, and his son, Jeff Wilpon, the chief operating officer, have a history of spending generously for top talent. However, due to their involvement in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the finances of the team suffered, and the Wilpons had to pay $162 million to settle the lawsuit related to the scheme. As a result of this lawsuit, the team was forced to borrow $62 million from Major League Baseball and the Bank of America Corporation and repaid the loans by selling minority shares in the team. As a result of the financial stress and to the chagrin of their fans, the team was tenth in payroll in 2019, hardly befitting a team in the New York market.
It was because of this that Mets fans were ecstatic by the prospect of billionaire hedge fund manager and Chief Executive Officer of Point72 Asset Management, Steve Cohen, buying the team. Cohen is a lifelong Mets fan from Great Neck, Long Island and is already a minority owner. The Mets and Cohen were close to finalizing a deal for Cohen to acquire up to an 80% share of the team with a value of $2.6 billion for the team.
The initial excitement has evaporated, however, as the deal has been called off.
As reported in a Feb. 7 CBS article, the exact cause of the deal’s collapse is unknown, though the team described the proposed deal as “a highly complicated one” and stated that, “despite the efforts of the parties over the past several months, it became apparent that the transaction as contemplated would have been too difficult to execute.” Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in the same article, “The assertion that the transaction fell apart because of something the Wilpons did is completely and utterly unfair.”
The Mets have stated that they will attempt to find another buyer for the team. However, for diehard Mets fans, the prospect of a new owner as Cohen, whose net worth is $13.7 billion and has the resources to give the Yankees a run for their money, was a dream come true. Now, the Mets and their fans are back to square one. To quote Ernest Lawrence Thayer, who penned Casey at the Bat, “There is no joy in Met-ville, Mighty Cohen (and Wilpon) have just struck out.”