There is no joy in Flushing, for J-Rod has pulled out.
According to multiple sources, Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez are no longer interested in buying the Mets. That decision was reached after negotiations with potential partners failed to materialize and it became clear that the Wilpons’ reluctance to part with SNY makes it almost impossible for anyone without many billions of dollars to afford owning the team.
J-Rod’s quest to become the biggest power couple in Queens since Archie and Edith Bunker hit a major snag in recent weeks when their chosen money partner, Long Island biotech billionaire Wayne Rothbaum, made it clear he was only interested in scooping up the MLB franchise at an Amazin’ discount. Rothbaum also wanted to exert more control over the team than J-Rod was comfortable surrendering.
“The Rothbaum thing soured fast,” a source familiar with the J-Rod/Rothbaum relationship told The Post. “He was not their first choice, but he was the first to agree to next steps.”
However, any next steps in buying the Mets right now must overcome two major hurdles: The difficulty in valuating the franchise while baseball is shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Wilpons’ unwillingness to sell SNY.
In terms of the pandemic valuation, The Post’s Joel Sherman reported on Wednesday that Major League Baseball will shortly be sending a proposal to the Players Association with details to start the 2020 season. There are numerous hurdles to leap, however, from financial to medical to political. Ironically, the absence of a season, particularly one featuring games played in empty ballparks, would potentially save the Wilpons money. Nevertheless, the club is still paying off debts and hemorrhaging money without the gate and associated revenue it collects from the standard 81 home games at Citi Field.
“The league has drawn down all of its credit lines,” said a person close to MLB. “But that means it can pay each team $40 million at most. The Mets are going to lose like $90 million this year, if not more.”
The Post estimates that losses for a half season at Citi Field would be around $150 million, while a second source pegs the amount MLB can pay out per team at closer to $30 million.
Those losses make the inclusion of SNY a key in any deal to buy the Mets, but sources close to the Wilpons insist that the family is loath to lose the network and its revenue.
“They really think they can sell the team and keep SNY,” one Mets insider said. “But the only person to agree to that was Steve Cohen, and we all know how that ended.”
Cohen’s doomed $2.6 billion bid for the team did not include the network, but it was also made before the pandemic by a motivated buyer with $11 billion to throw around.
“Cohen was going to do it, sure,” one banker close to the situation said. “But there is no way this team trades now without SNY. The Wilpons can play hardball as much as they want but no one can afford to own this team without the TV revenue. It literally doesn’t add up.”
Alex Rodriguez struck out with many celebs before Jennifer Lopez
Whether J-Rod re-enters this fray remains to be seen, but it remains crystal clear that the saga to sell the Mets is as messy as ever.
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