After spending more than three decades as the stewards of the franchise, the Wilpon family has officially relinquished majority control of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets. On Friday, the team officially announced that billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen — who had previously purchased a small stake in the Mets in 2012 — completed his $2.4 billion acquisition of the club.
“This is a significant milestone in the history of this storied franchise,” Cohen said in a statement.
“I want to thank everybody 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 64-year-old, who was a lifelong fan of the Mets before becoming a member of its ownership group, had attempted to purchase a majority stake in the team last November. However, those negotiations ultimately fell apart after the Wilpons wrangled to remain in control of the organization for an additional five years. More recently, Cohen entered into an agreement to buy the Mets in September. He received final approval to acquire the club from both league owners and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last week.
As noted by ESPN, the Wilpons and their partners, the Katz family, will retain a five-percent ownership stake.
Cohen didn’t waste any time in putting his stamp on the team as its new chief executive officer, hiring former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as president. The organization also parted ways with GM Brodie Van Wagenen on Friday, as well as several other members of his front office.
New York’s national league club largely disappointed during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, finishing fourth in the NL East with a record of 26-34. Although the Mets had won a World Series in 1986, just weeks before the franchise was acquired by Fred Wilpon (and his partner at the time, Nelson Doubleday), they have largely disappointed during the decades that have ensued, advancing to playoff baseball just six times over that span.
The Wilpon family was motivated in part to sell the Mets as a result of massive financial losses due to their involvement in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Moreover, the continuing COVID-19 crisis has negatively impacted revenue streams for teams across all of professional sports.
Before Cohen reengaged previous ownership on a potential acquisition, New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez and his partner, entertainer Jennifer Lopez, had made their own bid to purchase the Mets. As relayed by The Inquisitr, Rodriguez was “fuming” after the failed bid, reportedly expressing a belief that the process had been rigged in favor of Cohen.