Josh Harris and David Blitzer, billionaire owners of the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers and National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils, have emerged as new suitors for Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, according to industry sources.
The Mets, currently controlled by the Wilpon family, have been back on the market since a previous deal to sell to hedge fund billionaire and current team minority owner Steve Cohen fell apart earlier this year.
That deal, valuing the Mets at $2.6bn, fizzled over disagreements over the timetable under which Cohen would get operational control of the team.
The interest from Harris and Blitzer, first reported by Variety, involves them looking to expand a growing sports and entertainment empire that in addition to the 76ers and Devils also involves the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, an ownership stake of the Premier League’s Crystal Palace, two esports properties, and a pair of minor league franchises, among other assets.
The Mets’ difficult financial situation has grown more serious with all of MLB remaining on hiatus due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in turn putting more pressure on the Wilpon family to complete a sale. Former Major League Baseball star and current broadcaster Alex Rodriguez and his fiancée Jennifer Lopez are exploring a bid for the Mets.
Harris is the co-founder of investment firm Apollo Global Management, which has specialized in leveraged buyouts and purchases of distressed securities, while Blitzer is a senior executive at private equity firm Blackstone Group. The group acquired the 76ers in 2011, and then gained majority control of the Devils two years later. The Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment holding group was formed in 2017.