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Saturday, 31 October 2020

Steve Cohen's $2.4 billion acquisition of the Mets is approved by MLB owners and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio as fans welcome their wealthy savior

 Steve Cohen's $2.4 billion bid to buy the New York Mets has been approved by Major League Baseball's owners as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio, who reportedly could have vetoed the deal because of a clause contained inside the team's lease at CitiField in Queens.

'The New York City Law Department has completed its legal review of the proposed sale of the @Mets,' de Blasio tweeted Friday. 'New York City has no objections and the Mets can now proceed with the transaction.'

As reported by USA Today and other outlets, a clause in the team's 2006 CitiField lease allows the New York City Mayor to deny the sale of the team to a 'prohibited person' defined as 'any person that has been convicted in a criminal proceeding for a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude.'

Steve Cohen's $2.4 billion bid to buy the New York Mets has been approved by Major League Baseball's owners as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio, who reportedly could have vetoed the deal because of a clause contained inside the team's lease at Citi Field in Queens

Steve Cohen's $2.4 billion bid to buy the New York Mets has been approved by Major League Baseball's owners as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio, who reportedly could have vetoed the deal because of a clause contained inside the team's lease at Citi Field in Queens

As reported by USA Today and other outlets, a clause in the team's 2006 Citi Field lease allows the New York City Mayor to deny the sale of the team to a 'prohibited person' defined as 'any person that has been convicted in a criminal proceeding for a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude.'
In recent days, the New York Post reported that de Blasio was searching for legal loopholes to block the deal to Cohen, but was unable to find cause. On Friday, Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for de Blasio, tweeted out a picture of a customized 'De Blasio' Mets jersey, signifying the Mayor's support

As reported by USA Today and other outlets, a clause in the team's 2006 Citi Field lease allows the New York City Mayor to deny the sale of the team to a 'prohibited person' defined as 'any person that has been convicted in a criminal proceeding for a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude.' In recent days, the New York Post reported that de Blasio was searching for legal loopholes to block the deal to Cohen, but was unable to find cause. On Friday, Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for de Blasio, tweeted out a picture of a customized 'De Blasio' Mets jersey, signifying the Mayor's support (right)

Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his blessing for the sale on Friday afternoon on Twitter

Mayor Bill de Blasio gave his blessing for the sale on Friday afternoon on Twitter


Cohen has never been convicted of a crime, but his hedge fund, SAC Capital Investors, pleaded guilty to securities and wire fraud in 2013, ultimately agreeing to pay $1.8 billion in fines.

In recent days, the New York Post reported that de Blasio was searching for legal loopholes to block the deal to Cohen, but was unable to find cause. On Friday, Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for de Blasio, tweeted out a picture of a customized 'De Blasio' Mets jersey, signifying the Mayor's support. 


Now, in addition to de Blasio's approval, the deal reportedly has the blessing of at least 23 of the 30 clubs, allowing the 64-year-old hedge-fund billionaire to obtain 95 percent of the Mets. The outgoing owners — Fred Wilpon, his son Jeff, the COO, and Fred's brother-in-law Saul Katz — will retain a 5 percent stake. 

Cohen outbid several high-profile investors, like a group led by Alex Rodriguez and his fiancée Jennifer Lopez, as well as Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris.

Citi Field (pictured) is built on city property, which is why Mayor de Blasio could deny the sale

Citi Field (pictured) is built on city property, which is why Mayor de Blasio could deny the sale

Many New York Mets fans see billionaire Steve Cohen as something of a savior

Many New York Mets fans see billionaire Steve Cohen as something of a savior 

One fan, Doug Bearak, posted a GIF of noted Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld crying tears of joy

One fan, Doug Bearak, posted a GIF of noted Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld crying tears of joy

Mike Piazza, one of the club's most legendary players, was also happy to see the sale approved

Mike Piazza, one of the club's most legendary players, was also happy to see the sale approved

NYC mayor mum on review of proposed Mets sale
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The Long Island native and lifelong Mets fan had long been considered the favorite to buy the team, given his immense wealth, believed to be over $14 billion, according to Forbes, which gave the club a $2.4 billion valuation last year.

The 64-year-old billionaire from Great Neck, Long Island outbid several high-profile investors, like a group led by Alex Rodriguez (left) and his fiancée Jennifer Lopez (right), as well as Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris

The 64-year-old billionaire from Great Neck, Long Island outbid several high-profile investors, like a group led by Alex Rodriguez (left) and his fiancée Jennifer Lopez (right), as well as Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris

He offered $2.6 billion in late 2019, according to the Post. However that deal fell apart amid reported disagreements over the five-year transfer of the club to Cohen and the future role of Jeff Wilpon, the team's COO.

During the stalemate, Rodriguez and Lopez quickly added several high-profile investors to their group's $2 billion offer, including retired NFL legends Brian Urlacher, Joe Thomas, DeMarco Murray, and two-time NBA All-Star Bradley Beal, according to ESPN.

Ultimately Cohen, the CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management, received 8 percent of the team for $40 million.

Cohen is believed to be the basis for actor Damian Lewis's character on the Showtime series, 'Billions,' which focuses on a billionaire's battles with a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.

He's also one of the world's most prominent art collectors, having once spent $141.3 million on Alberto Giacometti's 'Pointing Man' sculpture.

Cohen will sit atop the team's sixth ownership group.

The Mets may not have the most successful team, but they do attract major celebrities, like longtime fan Jerry Seinfeld (left) and his former writing partner Larry David (right)

The Mets may not have the most successful team, but they do attract major celebrities, like longtime fan Jerry Seinfeld (left) and his former writing partner Larry David (right) 

Outgoing New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (left), general manager Brodie Van Wagenen (center), and now-minority owner Fred Wilpon pose for a picture back in October of 2018

Outgoing New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon (left), general manager Brodie Van Wagenen (center), and now-minority owner Fred Wilpon pose for a picture back in October of 2018

The Wilpons have been criticized heavily in recent years, with fans often taking aim at their former financial relationship with convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff, as well as their reluctance to buy highly priced free agents.

Despite fan criticism of Wilpon and the long, difficult sales process, Cohen was complimentary to the family patriarch on Friday. 

Some Mets fans have already customized their own Steve Cohen Mets t-shirts

Some Mets fans have already customized their own Steve Cohen Mets t-shirts 

'I want to thank Fred Wilpon for inviting me to buy into the franchise in 2012,' Cohen said in a statement. 'Fred is one of the game's true gentlemen and I consider it an honor to be the new owner of this iconic franchise.' 

On Friday, fans responded with joy on social media.

One fan, Doug Bearak, posted a GIF of noted Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld crying tears of joy. Another posted a picture of a Jesus-like figure with Cohen's face walking on water to save a drowning man with the head of team mascot Mr. Met.

Mike Piazza, one of the club's most legendary players, was also happy to see the sale approved.

'Very Excited for this next chapter in @Mets history,' Piazza tweeted. 'This is a special day for all of us. Looking forward to the future with pride and optimism. Mr. Cohen, you have my full support and gratitude. Looking forward to seeing you all at @CitiField next year!'

The Mets are coming off a disappointing 26-34 season in which they tied for last place in the National League East for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. 

The Mets are coming off a disappointing 26-34 season in which they tied for last place in the National League East for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season

The Mets are coming off a disappointing 26-34 season in which they tied for last place in the National League East for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season

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