Mets COO Jeff Wilpon’s statement Thursday, “There’s four or five suitors that are out there” to buy the franchise, is raising eyebrows in sports business circles. According to multiple sources familiar with the market for the Amazin’s, if there are three or more bidders for the team, New York has a real mystery on its …
Mets COO Jeff Wilpon’s statement Thursday, “There’s four or five suitors that are out there” to buy the franchise, is raising eyebrows in sports business circles.
According to multiple sources familiar with the market for the Amazin’s, if there are three or more bidders for the team, New York has a real mystery on its hands. However, a source familiar with the process said at least one of the suitors is international, declining to give further details.
The Mets’ sales process is in the third inning, according to the source. The Mets, despite Wilpon’s statement that a transaction will happen, are only focused on a whole sale of the team.
“Four or five?” one person asked rhetorically. “I’d maybe believe three, and I couldn’t tell you the third.”
The Post has confirmed there are two groups with an active interest in buying the money-losing ballclub: Private equity billionaires and Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer, and celebrity power couple Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez.
“If there’s another bidder, I haven’t heard of them,” one banker familiar with the situation told The Post. “Maybe Wayne Rothbaum is still out there with a lowball offer, or maybe Jeff is including Steve Cohen?”
Rothbaum, a billionaire investor from Long Island, was reported to be working with J-Rod on a bid, but as The Post reported, Rothbaum was only interested in buying the Mets at a very steep discount.
As for Cohen, whose $2.6 billion offer for the team fell apart in February over the Wilpons’ desire to keep Jeff in charge for five years under Cohen’s ownership, a source close to the $11 billion hedge fund mogul tells The Post that Cohen is “not in [Jeff’s] suitor list.”
Despite the cynicism, sources were quick to remind The Post that major sports franchises in New York City don’t come up for sale very often and that makes the Mets attractive despite losing tens of millions of dollars every season.
“I’m sure a bunch of people have voiced at least preliminary interest,” said one Wall Street source following the sale. “And maybe four or five of those people signed something to get more info on the team, but that doesn’t make them a serious suitor.”
With the Wilpons thought to be desperate as they face a financial disaster thanks to baseball being halted by the coronavirus, they might be forced to sell the team at a fire sale price.
That situation, one source intimated, is perhaps the reason behind Jeff Wilpon’s comment.
“Harris and Blitzer seem like the most obvious candidate right now,” said one person knowledgeable of their interest. “But they’re private equity guys, they are going to offer much less than what the Wilpons are asking. It doesn’t hurt to make them think they have company, even if they don’t.”