billionaire Steve Cohen closed a deal on Monday to purchase the New York Mets baseball team.
“I am very pleased to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the New York Mets,” Cohen said in a statement from the team that announced the deal.
It comes after an earlier step to buy the team fall through in February.
The sale has yet to be approved by 23 of the 30 owners on the Major League Baseball team before it can become official. While Cohen already owns one Minority stake in the teamHis legacy, which he acquired in 2012, is controversial.
Cohen is the founder of SAC Capital Advisors, a hedge fund conglomerate that was dissolved after Cohen pleaded guilty to collecting insider trading fees. Today he is Chairman, CEO and President of Point72 Asset Management, the successor and recipient of most of SAC Capital’s assets. Item 72 has faced multiple discrimination claims brought by female employees.
Regardless of these concerns, a high price tag can mean higher team ratings for other owners that they are unlikely to object to.
“The New York Mets were a dying franchise,” said Jeffrey Klein, sports attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. “I think a mix of talent and excitement, dedicated ownership, and a long-term business plan will bring back fans, increase audience numbers, and make for a healthy and competitive franchise. If you’re the Major League Baseball business partner, the advertisers or broadcasters will be applauding to have another viable team. “
Before Cohen closed the deal, Cohen faced competition from a group led by former MLB star player Alex Rodriguez and his fiancée, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez. The couple previously announced that they would be Withdrawal from the negotiationsbut when things stalled between Cohen and the Mets, they became Reportedly revised At one point, Philadelphia 76ers owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer were also on offer for the team.
If the Lopez-Rodriguez group had bought the team, Lopez would have been the controlling owner, which would have made them the first Latina to hold such a position in Major League Baseball. Having Lopez at the helm would have meant a less controversial person in charge than Rodriguez, who violated the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, was suspended and then led a legal battle with MLB over the suspension.
Lopez also pledged to raise the Met’s payroll to $ 225 million and said she would donate $ 100 million to charities in New York if the team didn’t win a World Series within a decade.
The current owners, the Wilpon family, are not popular with Mets fans and have been viewed as the team’s miss managers for years. While the Wilpon family technically own the team, it is largely run by Fred Wilpon and his son Jeff. The hope is that Cohen approaches the team differently and makes better use of the Mets’ status as a large market team.
“The Mets have sales, market size, and fan base that should be spending more on players than they have in years,” Klein said. “Cohen is a competitive guy, he’s won his business. I think he’ll put the money into it to be competitive.”
While the Mets currently have the fifth highest payroll of any MLB team, they haven’t been in the top 10 since 2011. During that time, they only had a winning record three times, and only made it past the wildcard game once.
“Owning a professional sports team is very different from other M&A activities because the options are very limited,” said Klein. “Unlike other lines of business where you can build an alternative and compete, this is different, this is a trophy investment.”