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Who is Steve Cohen and what does his purchase of the Mets mean for fans?

Christmas came early this year for Mets fans as New York native Steve Cohen is set to complete his purchase of the team. The hedge fund manager from Great Neck is reportedly days away from inking a deal for majority stake of the beleaguered Mets from Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.

Details of the deal are mind-boggling: the New York Post reported that Cohen will pony up approximately $2.4 billion for the 95% share, enabling Wilpon to retain 5% ownership. Cohen already owned 8% of the team. 

The deal sets a record for the most money paid for a North American sports team, previously set by David Tepper when he purchased the Carolina Panthers in 2018 for $2.275 billion. Cohen is reportedly worth over $14 billion and has been a lifelong Mets fan. 

Who Is Steve Cohen?

Cohen was raised in a Jewish family in Great Neck, Long Island. He came from humble beginnings, his father a dress maker in the Garment District of Manhattan and his mother a piano teacher. He graduated with a degree in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Shortly after graduating, Cohen got a job on Wall Street as a junior trader and quickly rose up in the ranks at Gruntal & Co. by proving he had a knack for turning quick profits. He eventually started his own trading company, S.A.C. Capital Advisors. 

Cohen’s career is not without controversy: In 2012 he was implicated in an alleged insider trading scandal involving a former SAC manager, Mathew Martoma. Martoma was convicted two years later, and Cohen was named in a civil lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to adequately supervise Martoma and other employees involved in the scandal. Cohen settled and avoided criminal charges, but the settlement prohibited Cohen from managing outside money until 2018. 

Cohen and his family are involved in several philanthropic ventures; he serves on the board of trustees for the Robin Hood Foundation, which seeks to alleviate poverty in NYC. He also founded and funded the Cohen Veterans Network, which provides mental health support for veterans and their families. 

 

The Road to Ownership

Over the weekend, Steve Cohen received 26 out of 30 votes, more than the necessary 75% vote of approval by the rest of the MLB owners. He’ll become the richest owner in the selective fraternity. 

Owner approval was the final roadblock to ownership bulldozed by Cohen. Earlier this week he experienced pushback from New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. de Blasio had the authority to approve or block the purchase since Citi Field is located on public land, and the lease agreement includes a clause prohibiting convicted felons from owning a team.

However, since Cohen’s earlier legal woes involved only civil penalties and not criminal, de Blasio had no choice but to approve the transaction. He tweeted on Friday that the city had “no objections.” 

 

What Does This Mean for Mets Fans?

Aside from a World Series appearance in 2015, Mets fans have not had much to cheer about in the past few decades. The Wilpons had been principal owners since 2002 and were notoriously cheap. Most moves made in recent years, even if they seemed smart on the surface, generally did not pan out successfully. 

 

From the get-go, Cohen seems intent on pleasing his newfound fanbase. On Sunday he tweeted “I anticipate closing the deal in the next 10 days and then it’s off and running,” undoubtedly referring to free agency. 

Another recent tweet stated, “I would love to hear your ideas to make YOUR Mets experience better.” Cohen also interacted with the fans by engaging in dialogue with many of the fans who replied. 

“You’ve already done it by buying the team,” replied @NotDWright.

“Nah, we can do more than that,” Cohen quipped back. 

Besides the fans, Steve Cohen is bound to ingratiate himself to his new employees as well: He reportedly promised to reinstate pre-COVID salaries for all Mets employees, as per Friday’s statement. The days of Wilpon parsimony are apparently over. 

 

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Elizabeth DiPietro

Elizabeth DiPietro

Liz DiPietro has been a staff writer for In The Zone since 2011. She is a New York City public school teacher working at a middle school in Brooklyn, NY. Liz has a Master's of Creative Writing from Queens College and a Master's of Special Education from the College of Staten Island. She is a diehard Yankees, Knicks, and Jets fan and exercise enthusiast. Liz lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband Dave and 2-year-old son Christopher.

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