Sale of New York Mets to Billionaire Steve Cohen Rumored to Have Ended
The $2.6 billion offer to buy the New York Mets from billionaire Steve Cohen appears to be dead after reports surfaced that the Wilpons, the current owners of the club, attempted to restructure the deal at the last minute.
The original deal called for Cohen to buy 80 percent of the Mets from the Wilpons, but the current owners have requested amendments to the agreed-upon deal, causing Cohen to allegedly walk away from the agreement.
When asked if the deal between Cohen and the unpopular Wilpons was off, the Mets issued this statement, “The parties are subject to confidentiality obligations, including a mutual non-disclosure agreement, and therefore cannot comment.”
The last-minute haggling by the Wilpons is not new to fans that have followed the clubs for years. Back in 2011, the Wilpons were set to sell a small stake of the club to hedge-fund director David Einhorn for roughly $200 million, but fears that they would lose control of the team to the new buyer caused the deal to fall apart.
The deal with Cohen was structured to leave Fred Wilpon in charge of the club and remain CEO for five years. The COO, Fred’s son, Jeff would also stay in his current role for five years. After the five-year span, the belief from Cohen was that the Wilpon’s would be moved out of the roles as he took complete control.
But according to sources, the Wilpons came back to the negotiating table attempting to prolong their roles with the club. Another sticking point between both parties is what to do with the Mets’ network, SNY.
How Does MLB Feel About the Deal?
The deal already had the approval of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred as he told the media in December that he did not foresee any roadblocks to the sale of the Mets franchise to Cohen.
Cohen had already sent out an email to investors in his Point72 hedge fund to quell any anxious investors by letting them know that his role as director of the fund would not change during the sale. The soon-to-be owner was in the process of planning an opening day party to unveil his takeover of the franchise.
But it appears that those plans by Cohen are on hold as the deal hangs by a thread, but sources told the New York Post, “this is Steve Cohen, so this might be a negotiation. The Wilpons need this more than he does and no one is going to pay more.”
Why Are the Wilpons So Unpopular With Mets Fans?
One of the biggest reasons why Mets fans have a problem with the Wilpons is that they have fallen victim to two Ponzi schemes causing the team’s payroll to be affected as the owners attempted to recover their lost money.
Famously, the Wilpons were one of the biggest victims of Bernie Madoff, although many victims of his Ponzi scheme felt that the family were not honest about what they knew about the fraud. Several of Madoff’s other victims sued the Wilpons for lost money as Madoff routinely paid off the Mets owners using other investors’ money.
The loss of money from the schemes and lawsuits left the Mets cash strapped for years, leaving fans feeling that the club did not get the financial consideration that their crosstown rival, the Yankees received and enjoyed over the past decade.