Why Steven Cohen Wants to Buy the Mets

Professional sports have become the touchstone of a new labor movement, with players increasingly empowered to voice views and take action on a range of social issues. Their refusal last week to play games in order to draw attention to police brutality was a watershed moment that has radically altered the balance of power between ownership and labor. “Quietly, I think league executives are scared about this,” Amira Rose Davis, an expert on sports and labor history at Penn State, told The Times’s Noam Scheiber. “It shows the potential of athletic labor power and that’s why they’ll try to limit it by trying to co-opt it, contain it and declaw it.”

• This is a very different situation from when Mr. Cohen bought a minority stake in the Mets in 2012, or even when a previous bid to take control of the team fell apart in February. Burnishing his reputation as the owner of a team in the new era of player power may not be what he had in mind, but now comes as part of the deal.

Will other owners approve his bid? He needs 23 of the 30 team owners on his side to be successful, and that might be tricky. Beyond the insider trading issues that brought down SAC, Mr. Cohen’s new fund, Point72, has been accused of hostility to women. What’s more, Mr. Cohen, a longtime Mets fan with deep pockets, may be willing to spend in a way that could disrupt the pay scales, endearing him to players but not owners who lack his resources. On the other hand, baseball is ailing, and a big price tag for the Mets could raise team valuations for other owners.

• There is also the matter of the Mets’ lack of on-field success. “If Cohen leads the Mets to a win, he’ll have a table at any restaurant he wants,” said Jeffrey Klein, a prominent sports attorney and partner at Weil Gotshal & Manges. Younger fans won’t care about his past, he added, if they even know about it.


Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in Connecticut, Lauren Hirsch in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jason Karaian in London.

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