Steve Cohen will officially become the new owner of the New York Mets — and the richest owner in MLB — following two important steps in the approval process that went through on Friday afternoon.
First, his bid was approved by the MLB owners, as reported by many sources including RADIO.COM Sports MLB insider Jon Heyman.
Shortly after, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — who hinted on Friday morning that an announcement was coming shortly — signed off on the deal after a legal review.
There had been doubts as to whether the city would approve the sale to Cohen, as there is a provision in the city's lease agreement that mandates the owner of a city sports team cannot be someone who has been convicted of a felony or is a member of organized crime. Cohen’s former company had previously pled guilty in a 2014 insider trading case, forcing the business to pay $1.8 billion in fines. However, Cohen was not charged in the case.
When previously asked if he thought Cohen would be a good fit as owner of the New York Mets, Mayor de Blasio dodged questions, saying it was “not appropriate” to comment on the matter during the legal review process.
According to Tim Healey of Newsday, the deal is expected to close within days. Cohen released a statement shortly after de Blasio's approval became official, acknowledging several financial commitments for employees and philanthropic measures he will take. Among those notes are the following (via Healey):
— Steven Cohen will donate $17.5 million to programs developed by the City to make grants to local area small businesses to assist them in these uniquely troubling times. This tax deductible donation would be received and held by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
— We plan to dramatically increase the giving of the Mets Foundation in the coming years, with priority given to non-profits and causes in communities surrounding Citi Field.
— All Mets employees, including unionized groundskeepers, security guards and engineers, will received reinstituted pre-pandemic salaries as of November 1, reversing the 5-30% salary cut implemented in March. The value of this commitment is over $7 million.
— We will establish a new seasonal employee relief fund under which the approximately 1,000 employees who work at the stadium as employees of sub-contractors would be eligible to receive $500 per month from November 1 until opening day. The value of this commitment is approximately $2.5 million.
Cohen, 64, purchased the team for $2.4 billion, the highest price ever paid for a North American sports team. The families who had previously headed the Mets ownership group, the Wilpons and the Katzes, will retain five percent of the team. Should the sale had fallen through, another team headed by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez had vowed to match Cohen’s winning bid.
One notable former Met showed his support for Cohen as the team's newest owner.