Community leaders said last Monday that Adelson, a casino magnate and prolific donor to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, reportedly expressed interest in buying the team. Adelson, however, denied multiple reports last month that he made a bid for the Mets.
The group that rallied last week, which included political candidates, labor leaders and business owners, painted Adelson as a “supporter of hate and racist policies,” anti-union and someone who would only seek personal profit.
“He’s a person who’s only interested in financial gain,” said former state senator Tony Avella, who is running for City Council in 2021. “We want somebody who buys the Mets to be a fan.”
Avella noted that he was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Mets to prevent the construction of a mega-mall in Willets Point. He said Adelson is interested in building a casino on that same vacant property across the street from the stadium.
“The community will not stand for it,” he said.
Dao Yin, a businessman who’s making a bid as an independent for Queens borough president, called Adelson a “manipulative billionaire who has tried to buy our country.” He said the casino magnate’s attempt to buy the Mets or build a casino would only divide the community and bring trouble to Queens.
Instead, Yin said, the borough needs more hospitals and affordable housing.
“Queens does not need a shady billionaire owner of the Mets who never can call Queens home because of his racism and extremism,” he said. “What Queens does not need is a Sin City that will only tear families apart.”
Pete Leon, president of PL Health, has run his business in Queens for over 15 years. As a child, one of his first memories was the 1969 World Series, when the Mets won their first title.
“I’ll never forget that day,” he said. “There was a thrill in the air, there was excitement everywhere, and best of all, they actually won.”
Like Yin, Leon said Queens needs affordable housing for seniors, veterans and the homeless, and support for education and job training. He said struggling businesses, medical and mental health facilities all need help during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We don’t need another profiteer,” he said. “We need true investors in our community.”
John Choe, executive director of the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, said it’s not enough to reject Adelson. He said whoever buys the Mets needs to be part of the community.
“Not just a billionaire who comes as a landlord, who comes as someone who just extracts wealth from our communities,” said Choe, who is running for City Council. “But someone who is dedicated to the economic development and wealth of everyone who lives and works in our community.”
The new owner should be dedicated to protecting workers’ rights, ensuring that small businesses have a place at Citi Field, and will be here “not just in good times, but also in bad times.”
Choe noted that hundreds of small businesses just across the river in Flushing are suffering. Thousands of residents on both sides of Flushing Creek are lining up for hours at food pantries, a sign of growing food insecurity in the area.
“Where is Mr. Met coming to help boost our community?” he said.
In an August 11th open letter to Mets owner Fred Wilpon, the same group of leaders asked that he carefully consider who he turns over the keys to, and reminded Wilpon that ownership is “a representation of the community the Mets call home.”
Cohen, who is now in negotiations to purchase the team, needs the approval of 23 of Major League Baseball’s 30 team owners for the deal to go through. If it does not, the bidding process for the team will reopen.
Community leaders said they are afraid if that happens, Adelson would still be in consideration to make a bid.
Cohen bought a minority stake to own 8percent of the team in 2012. His previous bid to buy the team in February, reportedly worth $2.5 billion, fell apart. According to reports, the deal fell through due to a provision that would have given Jeff and Fred Wilpon five more years to remain in their roles with the Mets.
Another contender to buy the Mets was a consortium led by former Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and musician Jennifer Lopez. The group backed out of bidding on August 28 after reports surfaced that Cohen was already in talks to buy the team.
They could also re-enter the bidding process should the Cohen deal not work out.
“Alex and I are so disappointed!!” Lopez tweeted that day. “We worked so hard the past 6 months with the dream of becoming the first minority couple and first woman owner to buy her father’s favorite Major League Baseball team with her own hard earned money. We still haven’t given up!!”
When asked who they would like to see buy the team other than Adelson, Robert Ramos, a candidate for Brooklyn borough president, said he would have loved to see Rodriguez and Lopez, a Domincan-American and Puerto Rican respectively, owning a baseball team.
Ramos noted that in sports generally, team ownership by minorities is lacking.
“To have two Latinos owning the New York Mets, that would make me proud,” he said, “and every person of color proud too.”
Avella said his preferred candidate is Cohen, whom he considers a Mets fan.
“We want somebody who’s interested in the team, interested in the community, pro-union, pro-community,” he said.
Leon, meanwhile, said he believes Cohen “appears to be a gentleman” who will work with the community, so he supports the billionaire hedge fund manager.
“My concern is that the deal doesn’t go through,” he said. “I definitely don’t want Sheldon.”