Charles Gasparino reports that billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has submitted an offer to buy the Mets for $2 billion as well as an additional $2 billion for SportsNet New York (SNY). The Mets own a 65% controlling interest in SNY. (Full disclosure: Comcast, through NBC Sports Group, owns an 8% share of SNY.)
As Jon Heyman reported yesterday, the Mets were expected to accept the first round of bids by Thursday. Cohen was one of a handful of bidders that also included Josh Harris and David Blitzer, Álex Rodríguez and Jennifer Lopez, and the Reuben brothers.
Cohen and the Wilpons were believed to be in agreement on a deal back in December that would have increased Cohen’s ownership share from 8% to 80% in exchange for $2.6 billion. However, the deal fell through as Cohen grew upset the Wilpons attempted to change the terms of the agreement at the last minute. The two sides have, obviously, patched up their differences.
As Sportico’s Scott Soshnick notes, the offers in the first round of bidding are non-binding. At any rate, given Cohen’s preliminary offer, the Wilpons are likely to collect quite the windfall. Fred Wilpon bought a 50% stake in the Mets for $81 million in 1980 and bought the other half in 2002 for $391 million.
Perhaps with different owners, the Mets could get back to being consistently competitive. Since 2012, the club has sat in the middle-third of the league (rank 11-20) or lower in terms of total payroll.