10:16pm: Charles Gasparino of FOX Business tweets that Cohen has told the Wilpons he’d be willing to pay $2 billion for the team and $2 billion for SNY. It’s not entirely clear that offers on SNY are even being entertained, though Cohen could certainly make an aggressive bid to buy a controlling stake in hope of forcing the Wilpons’ hand. If the numbers here are accurate, it’s hard to envision most other buyers being able to compete.
9:05pm: The initial bid from the Rodriguez/Lopez group is “around” $1.7 billion, Thornton McEnery of the New York Post tweets.
8:40pm: At least five interested groups formally submitted bids to buy the Mets on Thursday, Sportico’s Scott Soshnick reports. Among them are previously reported groups led by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez; New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers owners David Blitzer and Josh Harris; and, perhaps of most intrigue to Mets fans, New York billionaire and current minority stakeholder Steve Cohen. All offers submitted today are preliminary, non-binding offers which can still be altered, Soshnick writes.
Cohen was not only in talks to buy the Mets in late 2019 and early 2020 but actually had an agreement in place to increase his stake in the team from eight percent to 80 percent over a five-year period. However, that deal fell apart in February — reportedly after managing partner Fred Wilpon and son Jeff (the Mets’ COO) sought to alter some terms at the eleventh hour. Neither party would comment directly on why the deal crumbled. Cohen said in a statement at the time:
I’m very disappointed we couldn’t work out a deal, but as an eight percent holder I’m looking forward to a higher bid for the team. I want to thank the fans for their support and the respect they showed me and I want to thank Commissioner Manfred and MLB for their support through the process. I gave it my best shot.
Cohen, a New York native with a net worth estimated at one point to be in excess of $13 billion, grew up as a Mets fan. That has given current fans hope that he could substantially up the team’s payroll in the event that he is ultimately victorious in his apparently renewed pursuit of a purchase. Whether that was actually the case earlier this year can’t be known, and it’s particularly up for debate whether it’d play out in such a manner following substantial revenue losses and a stark economic downturn. Cohen’s initial bid on the Mets was reported to be a whopping $2.6 billion. Updated bids are expected to be lower, however, due both to recent economic turmoil and the fact that the current sale is said not to include any stake in the SNY Network.
The other ownership groups, of course, shouldn’t be counted out. While few can match Cohen’s considerable net worth, the A-Rod/J-Lo group recently enlisted Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola and VitaminWater and BodyArmor co-founder Mike Repole to bolster its resources. Harris and Blitzer already own a pair of U.S. sports teams, and Harris has a minority stake in an English Premier League club, so this is familiar territory.
There’s also been reported interest in the Mets from U.K. billionaires David and Simon Reuben. The brothers carry a net worth even greater than that of Cohen — a reported $14 billion — and have interest in expanding their broad-reaching real estate and retail enterprise into New York in the near future. Bloomberg reported that they recently purchased retail space in Manhattan, and they’re said to have interest in developing the land around Flushing’s Citi Field. Whether they’re one of the five (or more) groups to have formally submitted a bid isn’t yet clear.
As many as seven groups were pre-approved by Major League Baseball recently. The Wilpons are aiming to complete a sale of the team by end of year.