The MLB owners committee approved the sale by a vote of 7 to 1. The lone hold out was Chicago White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Mr. Reinsdorf is no fan of Steve Cohen’s due to the latter’s sordid past involving securities violations.
The deal came to $2.45 billion, the most ever spent on an American professional sports franchise; although, many teams, like the Mets’ crosstown rivals the Yankees, have much higher current valuations.
In 2012 Jerry Reinsdorf also blocked a bid by Steve Cohen to buy an MLB team when the Los Angeles Dodgers were for sale. And the White Sox owner is also a close friend of Alex Rodriguez who had made his own highly publicized bid for the Mets together with his wife Jennifer Rodriguez.
The deal would have cost Cohen a lot more if it had included SNY, the Met’s own television network. But reports say that it does not.
Now Steve Cohen may have trouble getting approval from the Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio.
Neither Major League Baseball nor the law requires the approval of a local mayor, however. The issue at hand has to do with the Stadium where the Mets play Citi Field.
While the New York Mets financed the construction of Citi Field themselves rather than rely on public funding, it sits on park land owned by New York City. As such the team needed to sign a lease agreement with New York City.
That lease has a clause which allows the mayor of New York to block the sale of the team to a “prohibited person,’’ which is defined as “any person that has been convicted in a criminal proceeding for a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude.’’
The clause might apply to Cohen because in 2013 his hedge-fund S.A.C. Capital Investors pleaded guilty to securities fraud and wire fraud. Cohen himself had his license to trade suspended for two years and the fund was fined $1.8 billion.
“The Mayor has an obligation to the people of New York City,’’ press secretary Bill Neidhardt told USA TODAY Sports, “to closely examine new leases on culturally important and incredibly valuable city-owned land.’’
But will Mayor de Blasio rule against Steve Cohen?
Most observers say no. MLB owners will hold a full vote on Steve Cohen’s purchase of the Mets on November 17. Even with Jerry Reisndorf’s objections he is expected to win the required support of three quarters, 23, of all MLB owners.