After several weeks of reported new suitors for the New York Mets, back at bat for another crack at the team: hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen, who has the financial wherewithal to make a bid for the team on his own.
Some big names have popped up with a sale of the Mets, including Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez, Robert and Jonathan Kraft, and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment. It’s not every day one of the preeminent franchises in all of sports hits the market, so it’s a little surprising there’s not more interest in buying the team. While there are differing reasons for these groups to be interested in a purchase of the Mets–the Krafts are interested in developing the land surrounding the ballpark, for example, and not interested in the Mets per se–the potential sale of such a flagship property and the chance to unlock hidden value should be catnip to the status-seeking New York City investors. And Cohen should have an advantage should be come forward with a bid: he doesn’t need to put together a group as the Rodriguez/Lopez effort requires (they’re both rich, but not baseball rich).
It’s no secret that the Mets ownership is facing some financial issues: Bonds backing the construction of Citi Field have been downgraded to junk status by S&P, and an effort to sell the team to Steve Cohen for $2.6 billion fell through. The Mets reportedly lose $50 million a year, losses that are offset by cable-network profits. Cohen’s offer did not include the team’s share of the SNY cable network, but reportedly the Wilpons will include that as part of any purchase. But in many ways the Cohen offer is irrelevent: that offer was made in better financial times but was ultimately pulled off the table. Will a new deal exceed $2 billion? Given the debt levels and the current state of the investment economy in the era of COVID-19, it’s hard to see.