April 17, 2024

The Mets Do Not Have to Look Far to Find Bidders

He almost certainly works in finance, and he probably roots for the Mets.

Who is he? He is one of the men angling to buy a minority share of the Mets.

The general profile of the known bidders for the Mets is not surprising, but it lacks the diversity of team owners who built ships (George Steinbrenner), sold cars (Bud Selig), co-founded Home Depot (Arthur Blank), erected shopping malls (Herb Simon) or started Microsoft (Paul Allen) with Bill Gates.

It makes sense that rich native Long Islanders would want a piece of the Mets despite their recent dismal on-field record and hefty financial losses. About one-quarter of the Mets’ fan base comes from the New York suburbs of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. A locally bred fan in the prime of his career — with lots of money — might be more willing than an outsider to accept a stake in the team that gives him no control. And in an economy in which Wall Street is faring better than most industries, a New York team can attract cash from financial executives.

“New York is where you’d think the money would come from,” said Rob Tilliss, the founder of Inner Circle Sports, a sports investment bank and adviser. “There are enough local buyers around the New York metropolitan area with substantial money.”

The sale for a limited partnership is nearing its final stage as the owners look at three offers for up to 49 percent of the Mets. Fred Wilpon, the Mets’ principal owner, was 43 when he bought a small piece of the team in 1980. He is from Brooklyn, whence people fled farther east; lives on the wealthy North Shore of Nassau County; put the headquarters of his company, Sterling Equities, in Great Neck; and made his money in real estate. His former partner in the Mets, Nelson Doubleday, was also a wealthy Long Islander, who published books.

More than 30 years later, Steven A. Cohen fits the parameters of the modern, updated profile. Cohen, a billionaire hedge fund manager in Connecticut, is 54. He runs SAC Capital Advisors, a powerful $12 billion hedge fund in Stamford, where the former Mets manager Bobby Valentine is the public safety director, and lives in Greenwich, Conn., where Tom Seaver lived before turning to winemaking. Cohen, who is from Great Neck, has a suite at Citi Field.

Anthony Scaramucci, also a hedge fund manager, is the profile personified. He is 47. He grew up in Port Washington. He lives in Manhasset. He delivered Newsday as a youngster. He took the Long Island Rail Road to Shea Stadium to watch the Mets. And Valentine gave him a blurb for his book, “Goodbye Gordon Gekko.”

Scaramucci still appears to be in the running to pay up to $200 million for less than half of the Mets, along with a neighbor in Manhasset, James F. McCann, whose son, Matt, works for Scaramucci.

McCann is 59, from Rockaway, Queens (a borough that is still a geographic part of Long Island), and while not a Wall Street Master of the Universe, runs a business, 1-800-Flowers.com, from Carle Place on Long Island.

McCann has a direct connection to the Mets through his sponsorship of the team.

Steven Starker, another Wall Streeter, is from Brooklyn (also geographically part of Long Island) and was a founder of BTIG, a global trading firm. Two of his bidding partners also have Long Island roots. Kenny Dichter, a co-founder of Marquis Jets, and Doug Ellin, who created the HBO series “Entourage,” are 1986 graduates of Kennedy High School in Merrick, which last year inducted them into its hall of fame. The status of their offer for the Mets has not been determined. But it is typical of a process like the one being run by the investment firm Allen Company to ask finalists to improve their bids.

David Heller and Marc Spilker epitomized the investor profile, too, but they are out of the bidding. They are fabulously rich Mets fans, in their 40s, from Long Island. Spilker graduated from W. C. Mepham High School in Bellmore. Heller is a global co-leader of Goldman Sachs’s securities division. Spilker was a Goldman executive but is now president of Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm.

One of the first men in his 40s to voice an interest in the Mets was Mike Repole, the owner of the Kentucky Derby hopeful Uncle Mo. He is 42, grew up in Middle Village, Queens, lives on Long Island and made his wealth when Coca-Cola paid $4.1 billion for the company he co-founded, Glacéau, the maker of Vitaminwater. He balked at bidding without getting any control over the team.

Still another bidder, about whom little has been heard, is Jason Reese. He is in the financial world, as chairman of an investment bank called Imperial Capital in faraway Los Angeles. Still, he is a native Long Islander who played goal on the West Babylon High School lacrosse team and later for Yale.

One pair of bidders who have dropped out barely fit the profile. Leo Hindery, a media investor, and Marc A. Utay, managing partner of a private equity firm, work in Manhattan. But Hindery is from Washington State and Utay from Glenview, Ill.

The current profile of the Mets’ bidders resembles, to some degree, that of Joan Whitney Payson — an heiress whose main home was in Manhasset, and who, in her late 50s, became the first owner of the Mets, and their most ardent fan.

Peter Lattman and David Waldstein contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=818090feb93a2841afa6b4421d741835

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