Billionaire Steve Cohen has been in exclusive negotiations to buy the Mets for two weeks now, and those talks may be nearing the endpoint. According to Charles Gasparino of FOX Business Network, Cohen is “finalizing” the details on his purchase of the team. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported yesterday that “the complication of language, mainly for tax reasons” was the primary reason for “the slowness” in fully completing a sale agreement.
Though there don’t appear to be any obstacles standing in the way of Cohen becoming the Mets’ next owner, we have already seen his earlier attempt to buy the team fall apart back in February, so no assumptions should be made until a deal is officially announced. Until that time, the competing ownership group led by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez (who were known to be less than pleased with the bidding process), haven’t yet abandoned hope that they could still end up as the Mets’ next owners. “It ain’t over until it is over….We feel we have the best bid for the sport, the team and the city,” Lopez told Sherman.
Lopez and Rodriguez shared some details about the vision for the team, including a player payroll in the $225MM range and the guarantee of a $100MM donation to various New York City charities if the Mets didn’t win a World Series within a decade of their taking ownership of the club. Lopez also revealed the intriguing news that she would act as the Mets’ control person (i.e. the member of the ownership group who officially represents a team in the eyes of Major League Baseball), rather than Rodriguez. Past documentation filed by the ownership group indicated that A-Rod would be the Mets’ control person, though given the amount of baggage and controversy attached to his name, having Lopez as the official owner of record would perhaps make their bid more palatable in the league’s eyes.
As Sherman puts it, “the Rodriguez/Lopez group is staying alive as, at minimum, a just-in-case alternative should current Mets ownership need to pivot” and is “trying to deliver a message to [Mets ownership], fans and major league owners that — eleventh hour or not — they believe they would be the superior caretakers of the franchise.” Whether this public appeal will have any impact is anyone’s guess, as the only potential hurdle for Cohen’s bid would be if he doesn’t receive the necessary 23 votes of approval from the league’s other owners. As Gasparino notes, however, league executives “say every indication is that Cohen gets approved.”