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Steve Cohen Approved To Buy New York Mets, As Owners, Mayor Sign Off

Hedge fund mogul Steve Cohen has been approved as the new  owner of major league baseball’s New York Mets, winning final nods today from MLB owners and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Cohen received the necessary 75 percent of the vote by MLB owners approving his purchase of the team from the Fred Wilpon family and his brother-in-law, Saul Katz, to become Mets majority owner and control person. Shortly after, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed off on the deal after some concerns that he was looking to veto the deal because of an obscure clause in the Citi Field lease.

The approvals mean Cohen is now the richest team owner in baseball. Mets fans for years have lamented the team’s financial fortune, dating back to the 1970s, when the de Roulet family ownership wondered aloud whether foul balls could be retrieved for re-use.

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Now, they are salivating at what Cohen’s estimated $14 billion fortune could mean for the team.

Cohen formerly held a minority stake in the Mets, but has now purchased 95 percent of the team from the Wilpon and Katz families, who have struggled financially since being duped by the Bernie Madoff scandal that was uncovered in 2008. The team subsequently underspent for a major market franchise, leading some fans to dub them “The Coupons.”

The Wilpons will retain a small stake in the team and majority interest in the SportsNet New York network, a joint venture with Charter Communications, which holds the rights to televise Mets games.

Cohen issued a statement shortly after his approval.

“I am humbled that MLB’s owners have approved me to be the next owner of the New York Mets,” Cohen said in the statement. “Owning a team is a great privilege and an awesome responsibility. I would like to thank the owners and Commissioner Manfred and his team for welcoming me to Major League Baseball.

“And I want to thank Fred Wilpon for inviting me to buy into the franchise in 2012. Fred is one of the game’s true gentlemen and I consider it an honor to be the new owner of this iconic franchise.

“Most of all, I’d like to thank Mets fans for their unwavering support throughout this process. My family and I are lifelong Mets fans, so we’re really excited about this. With free agency starting Sunday night we will be working towards a quick close.

“Let’s go Mets!”

The sale closing is expected within the next 10 days. The 64-year-old Cohen reached an agreement last month to purchase the team for $2.4 billion, and fans are eager to see whether he will spend money on free agents to shore up the team.

Cohen also said today he will donate $17.5 million to New York small businesses and will increase the donations of the Mets Foundation in the coming years. He also said he will reinstitute pre-pandemic salaries for New York Mets employees. The moves are likely a sop to De Blasio, who threatened to scotch his Mets plans, or at least delay them.

Cohen is said to be the model for Bobby Axelrod, a fictional character in the Showtime series Billions. His former hedge fund, S.A.C Capital Advisors, pled guilty to insider trader charges and was fined $1.8 billion. Cohen was reprimanded by the SEC and received a two-year ban from managing outside money. Although Cohen does not have a criminal record from those actions, it raised some doubt as to his final approvals.

Cohen entered exclusive negotiations to buy the club last winter, but the deal fell through over the role of COO Jeff Wilpon in managing the team. That opened the door for a group fronted by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez to make a bid, as well as another group headed by 76ers and Devils managing partners David Blitzer and Josh Harris. But Cohen prevailed.

Cohen is also one of the big investors in the Hollywood management company Range Media Partners. The management company has signed 18 clients, including Michael Bay, Emilia Clarke, Bradley Cooper, Johnny Depp, Taron Egerton, Michael Fassbender,and Keira Knightley, among others.

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