So the Wilpons have chosen their “preferred partner” — hedge fund manager David Einhorn. If approved by MLB, he will invest $200 million of his own money for an undetermined share of the Mets. For the 43-year-old Einhorn who grew up a Mets fan, it is a dream come true, saying in a Mets news release:
“Having an opportunity to become part of the Mets franchise is exciting beyond my wildest childhood dreams. I spent my first seven years living in New Jersey and rooting for the Mets. In 1975, I even dressed in a homemade jersey as a Met for Halloween. I have been a baseball fan for my entire life and have enjoyed teaching the game as the coach of my daughter’s little league team. I look forward to partnering with the Wilpon and Katz families through the good seasons, the tough seasons and especially the championship seasons.”
The deal does not include part of the lucrative and profitable SNY, just the money-losing ballclub. But obviously Einhorn has the money to spend. What Mets fan who has $200 million to spare wouldn’t buy part of the team?
One thing is a bit puzzling, though. When the Mets first announced they would sell part of the team, they said they wanted $200 million for a 25% share, which would value the Mets at around $800 million, which sounds right. Then reports said $200 million would get a buyer 49%. Perhaps adding in all of the debt the Mets owe devalues the team, but I would say getting nearly half of the Mets for $200 million is a pretty good deal.
My guess is it won’t be 49% — if not the original 25%, it will probably be around 35%.
In any case, it’ll be nice to have new blood in the owner’s box. With less than a majority share, Einhorn will likely have little say in how the team is run. But if he has good ideas, perhaps the Wilpons will listen. You just never know with these guys.