New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ruling of Steve Cohen’s worthiness of taking over the New York Mets won’t come by the time MLB club owners vote on their approval of the hedge-fund billionaire taking over the Queens-based franchise at 1:30 p.m. ET.
The mayor appeared on WNYC on Friday morning and was asked about any update on whether or not he will block Cohen’s $2.4 billion acquisition of the Mets from the Wilpon family, which is in the final stretch.
He didn’t provide anything new — sticking to the same answers that arose when reports initially leaked out that he could kill the deal due to a clause in the 2006 Stadium Lease Agreement between the New York City Industrial Development Agency and Queens Ballpark Company.
“It’s a simple, straightforward situation. We’ll have a resolution very soon. The law is the law,” de Blasio said. “The law department is going to make a determination and announce it very quickly.”
Under that clause, de Blasio could block the transferral of Citi Field if the potential owner was convicted of a felony. Cohen was never charged with a crime, but his former hedge fund, S.A.C. Capital, paid $1.8 billion in fines after being found guilty of security and wire fraud.
Reports from the New York Post and Andy Martino claimed de Blasio called MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to voice his displeasure about the impending arrival of Cohen.
It’s been well documented that he has a staunch supporter in his anti-Cohen sentiment with New York State Senator Jessica Ramos, who represents Queens.
The mayor, however, implored that personal feelings aren’t getting in the way.
“Whatever I feel personally is not the issue,” he said. “This is a legal process, a legal requirement. The process is for our law department… they have to determine and do their due diligence if there’s any outstanding concern if the law requires.”
Without a resolution on Friday, though, the Mets, Cohen, and their fans will be left waiting for de Blasio and his law department to officially confirm the new owner as a 95% majority stakeholder in the club.
“For empathy for Mets fans… I know Mets fans have suffered a lot. I know Mets fans really want to see their team do well in the future,” de Blasio said. “I come from a [Boston Red Sox] team that suffered for many generations and I know what it feels like… The bottom line is the law addresses the question of who is allowed to do business with the city of New York and who is not. That’s why the due diligence is done.”