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MLB owners approve Cohen purchase of Mets

New York MetsMajor League Baseball owners officially approved the $2.42-billion purchase of the New York Mets by Steve Cohen, clearing the way for a final closing of the deal in the next 10 days.

In the end, Cohen received 26 out of 30 votes approving the purchase. Presumably Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf was a no vote, as he opposed Cohen and favored the Alex Rodriguez/Jennifer Lopez bid for the team. The purchase ends the Wilpon/Katz era of Mets ownership, although the Wilpon family will retain a small (5 percent) share of the team.

In the end, Mayor Bill de Blasio also approved of the sale. He had raised the possibility of opposing the sale based on a Citi Field lease clause that prohibits felons or those controlling felons from leasing the ballpark. Technically, Cohen is not a felon, but his former trading firm, SAC Capital Partners, was accused of insider trading in 2014 and paid $1.8 billion in fines. This history is not exactly a secret and was raised early on when the Mets were put on the market, but MLB leaders quickly dismissed it as being a factor.

Cohen’s first challenge will be to establish the Mets as a major force in the New York City entertainment scene–a position that’s diminished in recent years, due to financial constraints. One easy way to make headlines and establish some credibility: signing Connecticut native George Springer to a free-agent contract. Springer is one of the top free agents on the market, despite the Astros cheating scandal.

From Fred Wilpon (on behalf of himself and Saul Katz):

“It has been a privilege and honor for our families to have been a part of this great franchise for the past 40 years. We would like to express our deep appreciation for our loyal and passionate fans, who have consistently supported this organization through the years. We’d also like to thank the many great players, managers, coaches, and dedicated employees with whom we’ve been privileged to work with through the years, for their commitment to the interests of our organization, our industry, and our community.

I know that Steve Cohen and his family share the same passion we’ve had for the Mets and for this City. Steve will continue, and will build upon, this organization’s longstanding commitment to the support of our community, and of those in need, which is especially important at this time. He shares the view that Saul, Jeff and I have long held, that ownership of the Mets is a public trust. I know that he will take that as seriously as we always have.”

The deal also includes the Syracuse Mets (Class AAA; International League), St. Lucie Mets (High A; Florida State League) and the Brooklyn Cyclones (Short Season A; NY-Penn League).

RELATED STORIES: Cohen purchase of Mets expected to be approved Friday; Cohen receives initial permission to buy Mets, but hurdles remain; Mets sale bids expected at months’ end; In the end, Mets sale may be a real-estate, gambling or media play; Back at bat to buy the Mets: Steve Cohen; New Mets suitor emerges: Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment; A-Rod, J-Lo prepping bid for Mets, SNY share; Goodbye Steve Cohen, Hello… Alex Rodriguez?

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