Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has reached an agreement to buy baseball’s New York Mets, the team said on Monday, edging his long-running attempts to control the beloved franchise closer to home plate.
The deal is still subject to the approval of other Major League Baseball owners, a timetable for which was not immediately available. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and spokesmen for Mr Cohen and the team declined to comment beyond acknowledging the agreement.
The Queens-based club is often overshadowed by its more successful crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees. But the Mets remain a trophy asset because of their famously devoted fan base and location in the media capital of the US.
The Mets’ current owners, the Wilpon family, have controlled the team for nearly two decades but have been exploring a sale as their financial profile diminished in the wake of the financial crisis.
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Earlier talks between the Wilpons and Mr Cohen regarding a sale of the Mets collapsed in February, leading to a protracted and high-profile auction for the team, which elicited bids from A-list celebrities including Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, as well as other Wall Street power brokers.
Following the receipt of bids, Mr Cohen and the Wilpons entered into exclusive talks about a sale at the end of last month. The latest agreement between Mr Cohen and the Wilpons values the club at $2.42bn, according to Sportico.
Before a sale can close, the structure and finances of the ownership bid must be reviewed by several committees at MLB. They would, in turn, produce a full report for the consideration of the current owners, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Baseball has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which has drastically shortened the MLB season and prevented teams from hosting fans in stadiums. Unlike other US sports leagues, baseball derives the lion’s share of its revenues from in-game ticket sales.
The Mets are expected to lose $247m from the loss of ticket sales this season alone, according to industry analyst Team Marketing Report.