Billionaire Steve Cohen completed his purchase of the New York Mets on Friday, closing a $2.4 billion deal with the team’s previous owners, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, and ushering in a new era for the Flushing faithful.
“This is a significant milestone in the history of this storied franchise,” Cohen said Friday upon completion of the deal, his first official statement as the Mets’ majority owner. “I want to thank everyone who helped make this happen. The 2021 season is right around the corner and we’ve got a lot of work to do, so I’m excited to get started. Let’s go Mets.”
The deal ends the Wilpons’ 19-year sole ownership of the city’s National League franchise, and Fred Wilpon’s 40-year association with the ballclub. The elder Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday had purchased the Mets back in 1980 for $21.1 million; the Wilpons would purchase complete control of the franchise nearly 20 years later.
For months, Mets fans have been on pins and needles about the future of the team, after the first reports surfaced that the Wilpons were considering selling the team. Over the Wilpons’ nearly two-decade stewardship, since 2001, the Mets had only made the playoffs three times, and experienced just eight winning seasons.
The Wilpons had also been financially impacted by the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme between 2008-09, suffering severe losses and having to pay a $162 million settlement to a group of Madoff’s victims. Most recently, the Mets were said to be in hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.
Last December, Cohen — who had owned 8% of the club — had agreed in principle to purchase a majority stake, but the deal fell through.
Cohen re-emerged as one of several bidders for the Mets during 2020 and would wind up outbidding several other rivals including a consortium that included former Yankee shortstop Alex Rodriguez and singer/actor Jennifer Lopez.
Last week, Major League Baseball’s owners approved the $2.4 billion deal between Cohen and the Wilpons. Mayor Bill de Blasio also gave his blessing to the plan, after the city’s Law Department reviewed the terms of the Mets’ Citi Field lease.
With a personal net worth of $15 billion, Cohen has become the richest owner in MLB, and Mets fans are hoping he’ll spend what it takes to build a perennial winner.
Among the anticipated changes coming to the team, as previously reported, is the return of former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, who helped build the 2015 Mets that won the National League pennant. The status of the Mets’ current GM, Brodie Van Wagenen, remains unknown.
Sources close to Cohen believe that Alderson will work to boost the Mets’ international scouting and analytical departments.