Relax, Mets fans – James Dolan is unlikely to buy your team. He only wants the TV station.
As the Wilpon family boosted the sale of their MLB franchise, there were rumors this week that Dolan – who, as the owner of the Knicks and the Rangers, may be even less popular with Big Apple sports fans than the Wilpons – was interested in buying the Mets ,
Sources confirmed that Madison Square Garden's billionaire boss is likely to take a look at it alongside other potential bidders. In addition to the New York industry titans, this could be a block formed by ex-Yankee Alex Rodriguez.
However, insiders said it was not the team that Dolan is likely interested in, but the Wilpons' participation in the SNY cable television network. The idea would be to merge it with the MSG Network to create a New York sports broadcasting giant.
"Jim Dolan, who buys the Mets, may sound crazy at first," said a banker who is familiar with Dolan and the Mets sale. "But he always wanted to merge [the MSG Network] with another local sports channel. He needs baseball, and that might take a shot at the Mets. "
When asked about Dolan's possible interest in Mets and SNY, an MSG spokeswoman said on Friday: "We do not comment on rumors or speculations."
On Wednesday, the Post reported that SNY could be up for grabs last month following talks on selling 80 percent of the team for $ 2.6 billion to hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen. According to a bank insider, the network could be worth up to $ 900 million in an auction scenario.
Several sources told The Post that Dolan had previously attempted a deal on the Yankees' YES network that would have given its MSG network rights to baseball games and summer TV earnings, which insiders say Dolan believes that MSG would make a more attractive acquisition.
However, insiders warned that Dolan's net worth is valued at $ 1.5 billion – not nearly enough to buy the team – and likely forced him to work with another billionaire interested in owning the Mets. In this scenario, a banker said, Dolan could merge SNY with its networks and then sell its stake in the team.
Such a deal could be frowned upon by Major League Baseball, as could the fact that Dolan's family already has a team. His uncle Larry Dolan bought the Cleveland Indians in 2000.
In 1999, Cablevision was in serious negotiations to buy the Mets directly from the Wilpons and its late co-owner Nelson Doubleday. This deal has been reportedly sunk by "structural and control issues" – a sentence that sounds incredibly similar to what killed the Mets deal with Cohen in the past few weeks. At that time, after the offer to buy the Mets failed, the Dolans signed a contract between 2002 and 2005 to broadcast some Mets games on MSG.
Since the launch of SNY in 2006, MSG has not broadcast a major league baseball game.
"There's a network out there with its own baseball team," said the banker. "[Dolan] would be careless if he didn't look. "