The Citi Field lease states that a transfer of ownership is a “permitted transaction” only if the buyer is not a “prohibited person.” The lease agreement defines a “prohibited person” as anyone who “directly or indirectly controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with a person that has been convicted in a criminal proceeding for a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude.”
The Mets declined to comment, as did a representative for Cohen.
Whether the mayor can — or wants to — hold up the sale to Cohen remains to be seen, and any attempt to block the transaction would surely be met with legal challenges. But the process could put on hold some of the hopes of Cohen and legions of Mets fans, many of whom are eager for Cohen to take over the club before the start of the new year and begin pumping some of his billions into the club’s operations and roster.
Cohen has already announced that he will hire Sandy Alderson, the former Mets general manager, to run his baseball operations department, and the current Mets owners are eager to sell the team before the end of the year.
De Blasio previously expressed his favored choice for new Mets owners, and it was not Cohen. In August, he said he supported the bid by a group headed by the singer and actor Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Alex Rodriguez, the former baseball player and current television analyst.
“If a very important franchise like the New York Mets ended up being led by a people-of-color ownership group, I actually think that would be very good for baseball and very good for this country,” de Blasio said at the time.
Lopez and Rodriguez made a competitive bid, with Lopez as the control person, but the Mets’ owners chose last month to sell to Cohen.
Another potential beneficiary, in the unlikely case the Cohen agreement falls through, would be the group headed by Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own the New Jersey Devils of the N.H.L., and the Philadelphia 76ers of the N.B.A.