The owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils are looking to expand their sports empire to baseball.
Josh Harris, the billionaire co-founder of Apollo Global Management, and David Blitzer, an executive at private equity firm Blackstone, are among the suitors for the New York Mets, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Mets have retained Steve Greenberg at Allen & Co. to oversee the sale process.
Greenberg declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Harris. Talks are still in the early stages, said one of the people, who was granted anonymity because the matter is private.
The Mets, controlled by the Wilpon family, in December said they were in negotiations to sell up to 80% of the team to hedge fund titan Steve Cohen at a valuation of $2.6 billion. Terms of that deal allowed for the Mets to retain control of the club for five years.
Talks broke down after Cohen sought to alter the part of the deal that pertained to the timetable for control.
The Mets lose at least $50 million annually — even before the Coronavirus shutdown of U.S. sports leagues.
Major League Baseball and its players’ union are in talks about how to start the regular season, which was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Any plan likely wouldn’t include fans at ballparks, costing the teams tens of millions in revenue.
The Mets control their regional sports network, which in earlier talks wasn’t a part of the proposed sale.
Harris and Blitzer aren’t the only ones interested in the team, which went 86-76 last season.
Former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and his fiancé, the actor and singer Jennifer Lopez, have retained JPMorgan Chase to help raise capital for a possible bid on the team, which Wilpon took control of in 2002 at a valuation of about $391 million.
Harris, meantime, bought the 76ers in 2011 for about $287 million. They’re worth $2 billion, according to Forbes. Two years later he bought hockey’s Devils and their arena, the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.