According to multiple sources familiar with Mets sale saga, the Wilpons will begin to field first-round bids on the team in July with an eye toward locking in a buyer by Oct. 1. But insiders say those bidders are now also aware the Wilpons must find a buyer in the coming weeks in order to …
According to multiple sources familiar with Mets sale saga, the Wilpons will begin to field first-round bids on the team in July with an eye toward locking in a buyer by Oct. 1. But insiders say those bidders are now also aware the Wilpons must find a buyer in the coming weeks in order to close a deal by the end of 2020.
“They need to sell the team before the end of the year,” one source told The Post.
The October timeline gives the Wilpons just enough time to sign off on a pact and submit it to Major League Baseball for approval before 2020 turns into 2021.
But with the Wilpons now even more motivated as sellers, people close to the situation are skeptical they can get the number they want for the team.
The Post has learned that potential buyers Josh Harris and David Blitzer are offering $1.4 billion for the cash-hemorrhaging baseball club without the team’s revenue-generating TV network SNY.
Considering the Wilpons pulled out of an almost identical deal with hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen that would have made them $2.6 billion in February, the team appears to be on the market at a coronavirus discount.
The Wilpons’ debt on Citi Field and operating costs have made the franchise a cash loser for years, losing $90 million in a normal season, but with the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out almost two-thirds of the baseball season, some estimates predict the Wilpons could lose more than $200 million on the 2020 season.
Another twist that does not bode well for the Wilpons is that Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez are working with high-level bankers at JPMorgan Chase on their own high-profile bid. The Wilpons are reportedly looking to improve their financial picture by getting some relief on their $250 million revolving loan, but that relief would have to come from their lender: JPMorgan Chase.
“Jamie Dimon can tell A-Rod what to offer,” joked one Wall Street source, referring to the bank’s CEO.
But a source close to the sale pushed back on the idea that the Wilpons’ 2020 deadline is a signal of financial desperation, saying a December closing would give any new ownership time to make decisions on payroll and roster changes for the 2021 MLB season.
Closing the deal before the end of 2020 also means the new owner would be on the hook for the $44 million in debt payments owed on Citi Field in 2021.
That source also expected early bids on the team to come in at more than $2 billion, citing increased revenue from MLB’s new TV deal with Turner Sports and potential new deal with ESPN as a positive for the Mets’ valuation.
But that argument is not swaying some insiders.
“Hard to believe in the midst of this pandemic and the fallout,” said one banker about the $2 billion valuation. “MLB teams are going to be significantly cash flow negative for the next 2-3 years minimum.”