With the market to buy a baseball team cooling, are the Mets looking to turn down the heat?
Sportico reported on Tuesday that the Mets’ owners, who have been shopping their team for a lengthy period (and announced plans to sell to hedge-fund magnate Steve Cohen before those talks fell apart), are trying to extend the deadline on a sizable loan that is due shortly. A $250-million loan led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. is scheduled to expire at the end of July, according to the report, and the Mets — owned by Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz — would like to delay that by a full year.
Pushing out the end date on the loan would buy the Mets more time to stay afloat by metaphorically letting some air out of the debt pressure cooker that has become the franchise’s financial situation thanks to baseball’s coronavirus shutdown, from which a return has been inhibited by tension between the owners and players. Among the parties who have expressed interest in purchasing the Mets, if at nowhere near the $2.6-billion price that Cohen paid (and that didn’t even include the Mets’ regional sports network SNY), are Devils and 76ers primary owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer and three-time Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez and his fiance Jennifer Lopez.
“This is coming from the Wilpons,” one source familiar with the Mets said of the kick-the-can tactic. “They need to get time on their side, and this gives them some in case they get some revenue back this year.”
One banker familiar with baseball agrees, saying, “This tells me that the Wilpons are not expecting a sale anytime soon. Harris and Blitzer are bottom feeders and would happily let this sale go to an auction. That’s the last thing the Wilpons want, so they’re buying time.”
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But the question remains if JPMorgan Chase is selling time.
As The Post reported weeks ago, some big names at America’s largest bank are working directly with J-Rod on their bid to become the queen and king of Queens. If the Wilpons wanted to extend the terms of their credit facility, they would likely have to ask a favor from some of the same lines of business run by Chase executives that are currently working with Lopez and Rodriguez.