Private equity billionaire Josh Harris is seen as the safest choice to buy the New York Mets. However, there is some question as to whether Mets fans would find him to be the savior they want.
Harris and investment partner David Blitzer already own three major professional sports teams: the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Premier League Soccer team Crystal Palace FC.
So far, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment’s three big teams have played 20 seasons without making a conference championship. In fact, their teams have only made the playoffs in five of 21 seasons (including this season’s 76ers). Also, in the regular season, their teams are a combined 581-748 for a combined .437 winning percentage.
To compare, Wilpon’s Mets since Fred bought half the team after the 1986 season have made it to five National League Championship Series in 33 seasons, though no World Series titles.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told The Post he thinks Harris is super smart, but in general it is hard to have passion for multiple teams.
“The challenge is the emotional investment,” Cuban said. “If you have that emotional commitment for any team, I don’t see how you can do it [for multiple teams].”
Cuban has explored buying a baseball team, but has decided for the time being to pass on bidding for one.
Indeed, Harris who is clearly passionate about the 76ers has had much more success with them than the Devils, one playoff appearance in seven seasons, or Crystal Palace, losing records in each of his five seasons. In fact, Harris has already tried to resell Crystal Palace, sources said.
Blitzer is part of a separate group of investors that in 2014 bought half of the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, showing interest in baseball.
The required 75 percent of Major League Baseball owners needed to approve a sale would almost assuredly be comfortable with Harris, while rival bidder Steve Cohen has had issues with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Alex Rodriguez was suspended as a player for taking steroids.
This week, the remaining Mets bidders are separately expected to take tours of Citi Field. The Mets will likely ask for final bids to be submitted by the end of the month, sources said.
There are a few sports team owners who have been successful with multiple teams. The common thread: good management, sources said.
John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group has won with the Red Sox (2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018 World Series champs), and soccer team Liverpool FC (2019-20 Premier League title). Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy gets much of the credit for the baseball success.
Harris in 2015 split ways with Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello and his three Stanley Cups, shedding a big salary. Since, the Devils have had only one playoff appearance in five seasons, while Lamoriello has led both the resurgent Maple Leafs and Islanders to a combined three playoff appearances.
“Lou was making a ton of money, but you get what you pay for,” a source following the situation said.
Former 76ers coach and basketball legend Larry Brown in 2014 criticized Harris in the press for clearing out the front office, including GM Tony DiLeo and buying out coach Doug Collins’ contract.
“They don’t have a basketball person in the organization,” Brown said.
Harris, though, has started to spend more money on players. The 76ers are expected to go over the NBA salary cap next season, and the Devils last year acquired star defenseman P.K. Subban, who had three years and $27 million left on his contract to complement the team’s young players.
Crystal Palace too is renovating its South London stadium.
Owners with multiple teams that have struggled include Stan Kroenke. His family owns the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Arsenal soccer teams and they have gone more than a combined 50 seasons without a title.
There are potential financial benefits, though, from owning multiple teams.
You can share analytics, market multiple teams to corporate sponsors, negotiate better deals with concessionaires, share training complexes, and have more bargaining power when negotiating media rights deals, a sports team consultant said.
A Harris spokesman declined comment.
Source: New York Post
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