MLB owners approved the hedge fund titan’s purchase of the team from the Katz and Wilpon families, league officials confirmed Friday, inching Cohen closer to taking over the franchise he grew up rooting for as a kid on Long Island.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had objected to Cohen’s takeover, said that the city has no objections and that the Mets can proceed to closing. Cohen in a statement said that the Mets “intend to be vigorous supporters of the team’s home communities in Queens.”
Added Fred Wilpon in his own statement, “I know that Steve Cohen and his family share the same passion we’ve had for the Mets and for this City. Steve will continue, and will build upon, this organization’s longstanding commitment to the support of our community, and of those in need, which is especially important at this time.”
When complete, Cohen will own 95% of the team while the sellers are keeping a 5% stake.
At $2.42 billion, it’s the highest price ever paid for an MLB team, topping what a group led by Guggenheim executives spent on the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.
Owning the Mets has been a lifelong dream for Cohen, who already held an 8% stake in the franchise located in the No. 1 media market but often in the shadow of the Yankees.
It remains to be seen if Cohen will spend lavishly to bring a winner to Queens, where they haven’t celebrated a World Series championship since 1986. Cohen’s statement noted that MLB free agency begins Sunday night and as a result he’ll be working to close the deal quickly.
Cohen, who is worth more than $14 billion, according to Forbes, assumes control of a franchise that even in a non-COVID season loses at least $50 million annually.
That said, he has the resources to both sustain annual losses while investing in players. His ability to finance the purchase without partners was key in his winning an auction that included Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris as well as former big-league Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez.
The sale represents a hefty return for the sellers, who gained control of New York’s National League team for $391 million in 2002.
Cohen has said he would hire former Mets executive Sandy Alderson as the team’s president upon gaining control of the club.
(This story has been updated to add a statement from Fred Wilpon.)