There is a silver lining to 2020 for the New York Mets, as the sale of the franchise was approved by the team’s current owner Fred Wilpon for between $2.4 and 2.45 billion. The sale still needs to be approved by 23 of the 29 other owners in Major League Baseball before it is official. Cohen, valued at $14 billion, is now the richest owner in sports history, and the sale is the largest for a sports franchise since the Carolina Panthers were sold for $2.1 billion to Dave Tippet.
This deal was many months in the making. Cohen was close to purchasing the team last year, but when talks stalled, the Wilpons opened bidding to new groups, resulting in two other major groups jumping on the opportunity. One group was led by former Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and singer Jennifer Lopez, and the other group was led by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who owns the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.
While initially valued at $2.6 billion, the pandemic brought the value of the team down; however, this decrease in value was not nearly as bad as some had expected. The sale will give Cohen 95% ownership of the organization, with an expected buyout of the remaining 5% to come. It has been reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the team’s regional network, SNY, is not included in the deal, although that has not been officially confirmed.
The sale of the franchise is welcome news to Mets fans, as they have been at odds with the owner of the team for many years. However, it ensures the team’s financial security for at least a generation, which is something it has not had in a very long time.
The Mets were entangled in the middle of the Bernie Madoff scandal which left the franchise reeling. Now, with an owner who has the deepest pockets of any in the League’s history, the team is set to spend heavily and become a major force in New York baseball. Queens could become the new hotspot for free agents, now with stable ownership and a second major super team in the country’s biggest market.
More importantly for Major League Baseball, it leaves a glimmer of hope from the very dark place it currently sits, with the upcoming threat of a labor strike and the fallout from losses of revenue from the coronavirus pandemic. The desire for baseball from the fans is still strong and will bring in revenue once it can open up again.