The potential sale of the Mets has entered the second round, sources said on Tuesday, and the most notable known bidders remained in the picture.
A group fronted by celebrity couple Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez and the owners of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils have moved to the next stage of the bidding process, sources said.
Hedge-fund multibillionaire Steve Cohen also is a part of the second round, according to the website Sportico, which was first to report that the Mets’ representatives have informed the groups that they have advanced past the initial stage.
At least one other prospective ownership group remains in the picture, a source said, though it has not been publicly identified.
Cohen is widely viewed as the favorite because he has the deepest pockets of the bunch, with an estimated net worth of $13.6 billion.
Cohen, of course, already had a deal in place to purchase the Mets at a $2.6 billion valuation before it fell apart in February over the terms of a five-year window that was supposed to allow the Wilpons to remain involved.
It remains to be seen whether any ill feelings remain on either side over how the deal fell apart, and whether that will impact how the negotiating process unfolds from here.
Competing with Cohen is the Rodriguez-Lopez group that also includes Vitaminwater co-founder Mike Repole, who lives in Nassau, multimillionaire Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola, a Brooklyn native, and investors from J.P. Morgan.
Another group is headed by private equity duo Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who are looking to add the Mets to their growing portfolio of pro sports teams that includes the 76ers, Devils, the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace FC and a piece of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
The sale process is being run by Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., a veteran of sports deals. He also orchestrated the Wilpons’ sale of 12 minority shares for $240 million in 2012.