The sale of the New York Mets may soon be complete. MLB's owners are expected to vote on the transfer of power from the current ownership group, Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, to Steve Cohen this coming Friday, reports Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News. Cohen needs 22 votes from the other 29 owners to be approved.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle facing Cohen is not approval from the other owners, but approval from New York City. The city owns the land Citi Field sits on and mayor Bill de Blasio must approve the lease transfer. The lease states the mayor can block the sale of the team to "any person that has been convicted in a criminal proceeding for a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude."
Cohen has technically never been convicted of a crime. His former hedge fund pled guilty to insider trading charges a few years ago, however, and was fined nearly $2 billion. Cohen was never assigned blame but was banned from managing money from 2016-18 as a result of a civil suit with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Here's what de Blasio said during his press conference Monday:
"This is something our Law Department is evaluating right now, and we obviously want to get to a resolution on this very quickly. The Law Department's doing its due diligence right now. So, I'll be getting a report from them soon. And it will just be based on the facts of the research they've done. And then we'll speak to that again very quickly."
It appears Cohen has the necessary votes to be approved as the new Mets owner -- Thosar notes there is only one firm "no" at this point -- so the sale is essentially in de Blasio's hands now. There is some concern that if the lease transfer is not approved in a timely fashion, the Mets could be at a competitive disadvantage early in the offseason and miss out on free agent or trade candidates.
Cohen, 64, agreed to purchase the team for a reported $2.475 billion last month. He made his fortune in hedge funds and, with an estimated net worth north of $10 billion, Cohen will become the wealthiest MLB owner by a large margin once the sale is approved. MLB's ownership committee approved the sale last week, which was step one in this official sale process.