New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio finally, himself, addressed the rumors that he could play a role in potentially blocking Steve Cohen from taking over as majority owner of the New York Mets.
“This is something our law department is evaluating, we’re going to get to a resolution on this very quickly,” de Blasio said during his daily press conference Monday morning. “Because the land that Citi Field is on belongs to the city, the city always has to have a role when there is an ownership change. There’s a process for doing that, the law department is doing its due diligence right now. I’ll be getting a report from them soon, it’ll be based on the facts and I will respond to it quickly.”
A report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale initially surfaced last week hinting that de Blasio could block Cohen’s path to the Mets under the 2006 Stadium Lease Agreement between the New York City Industrial Development Agency and Queens Ballpark Company. It states that the city can deny the transferral of the Mets (or any NYC-based team) and Citi Field (or any NYC-based stadium) to a person who has committed a felony.
“The Mayor has an obligation to the people of New York City to closely examine new leases on culturally important and incredibly valuable city-owned land,” de Blasio’s press secretary Bill Neidhardt reiterated to amNewYork Metro after Nightengale’s report.
However, Cohen has never even been charged with a crime. His former hedge-fund company, S.A.C. Capital Investors, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and wire fraud in 2013, agreeing to pay $1.8 billion in fines. So if it truly is “based on the facts,” as de Blasio said Monday, Cohen’s takeover should not be inhibited by de Blasio or the local government.
If that is the (likely) case, Cohen will be able to seamlessly move forward with Major League Baseball’s approval process that could finish up shortly after the World Series at the end of the month.