The Mets’ new suitors have much more money and much more team-owning experience than Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez.
Josh Harris and David Blitzer, owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, are looking to expand to baseball by pursuing the Mets, sources said Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment declined to comment. Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co. — the boutique investment firm overseeing the sale on the Mets’ side — also declined to comment. Variety was the first to report Harris and Blitzer’s interest.
The Mets have been for sale, to little action, since the Wilpon and Katz families’ $2.6 billion deal with multibillionaire hedge fund boss Steve Cohen fell apart four months ago.
Harris is the co-founder of Apollo Global Management, an investment firm. Blitzer is a longtime executive with private equity outfit Blackstone. They both live in New York City.
On paper, Harris and Blitzer make more sense as Wilpon successors than Rodriguez and Lopez, who reportedly have been interested in buying the team. This duo has more money — Harris alone is worth $5 billion, according to Forbes — and they have done this before.
In 2011, they led a group of investors that bought the NBA’s 76ers for $287 million. In 2013, they bought the NHL’s Devils, as well as the lease to play in the Prudential Center in Newark, for $320 million. Harris and Blitzer, along with English businessman Steve Parrish, also own Crystal Palace FC of the English Premier League.
Buying the Mets would mean playing at another financial level, but another source said Harris and Blitzer have the financial wherewithal to complete a multibillion-dollar deal.
Although it is not clear if the Mets will fetch the $2.6 billion valuation Cohen would have given them, even the least expensive major-league clubs cost significantly more than the pro teams Harris and Blitzer already run. The Marlins and Royals, for example, have sold for an average of $1.1 billion in recent years.
Sources previously said the Wilpons' negotiations with Cohen did not include any ownership shares of SportsNet NY, their lucrative sports-programming channel.
It's unclear if that stance has changed in recent months.
The Devils, meanwhile, are in the final years of a television rights deal with MSG that expires after 2025, creating a potential area of synergy with the Mets' television station.
SNY, throughout its 14-year existence, has never had live major-league sports programming in the winter months, like the YES Network has always had with Brooklyn Nets games.
As for Rodriguez and Lopez, sources have questioned whether they could raise enough money to buy the franchise and operate it.
But they seem to be trying. Rodriguez has never hidden the fact he grew up a rabid Mets fan in the mid-1980s, watching their games from his South Florida home on WWOR-TV.
Rodriguez previously has told Newsday he "dreamed" of playing for the Mets alongside Keith Hernandez. He celebrated so wildly when the Mets won the 1986 World Series that he hit his head on the ceiling from jumping up and down on his bed, saying it was "the most excited I've ever been watching a baseball game.”