Would the New Jersey Devils owners buying the Mets prove problematic?
The New Jersey Devils are the clear second favorites in the Josh Harris-David Blitzer portfolio. It’s nothing personal, it’s honestly not a surprise. The Harris-Blitzer combo bought the Devils back in August of 2013 for $320 million. They are very happy with their purchase in one light because the Devils are now worth $550 million according to Forbes annual valuations. To have a 72% rise in value in less than seven years is insane. It’s moves like this that helped him get to a net worth north of $5 billion.
When someone is worth that kind of price, they aren’t happy with just value. They think everything they touch turns to gold (in this case, it’s usually true). That’s why the Philadelphia 76ers likely take up more of this ownership group’s focus. Their basketball team is currently playoff bound, one of the most star-studded teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, and they are worth $2 billion.
The last time we saw the owners in a Devils setting, it was after they fired general manager Ray Shero. In that press conference, they talked about wanting to “win now”. In the 23 seasons before the current owners bought the team, the Devils missed the playoffs a total of three times. In the seven seasons since, they’ve missed the playoffs six times, including this season when 24 teams made it.
Now, the Devils owners are considering another sports venture. Variety exclusively reports that Harris and Blitzer are preparing a bid to buy the New York Mets. That would give the Harris-Blitzer group an interesting portfolio, with one team in Philadelphia, one team in New Jersey, and one team in New York. It’s a good time to buy a baseball team, with the coronavirus pandemic likely putting owners in a bind, a team might be had for less than usual market value.
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This could spell bad news for the Devils. The 76ers have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons as marketable stars. While the Devils have Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes as the future, they are not in the stratosphere of Pete Alonso. He’s not a budding superstar; he’s someone who’s already there.
If the Harris-Blitzer group can get the winning bid, and honestly who could stop them, it would make the Devils clear third banana for their sports portfolio. Hockey is just less profitable than baseball and basketball. It’s harder to grow ice hockey further than their most diehard fans. Baseball and especially basketball have room for the fair-weather fan.
Honestly, the Mets fans should probably root for Harris and Blitzer over a group led by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez. While the success of the owners hasn’t been there yet, they’ve allowed hockey and basketball minds to make the major decisions, and they don’t have that whole “tied to Bernie Madoff” thing going against them.
However, we here at Pucks and Pitchforks are incredibly selfish. We don’t want to fall further down the totem pole, and we’d like to have as much of the focus of the owners as possible. We don’t see many people who own more than two sports teams (mostly thanks to NFL rules disallowing owners to own teams in other markets). The only one we see is the Kroenke family, who owns the Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets (they did some tomfoolery to get around the NFL’s rules). The NHL team is always going to be the second or third banana. The New York Rangers come after the New York Knicks. When ESPN writes a story about Ted Leonsis paying his staff, the headline reads “Wizards, Mystics, and Capitals”. One of those teams is good, and it’s the only one that doesn’t play basketball.
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If the Devils owners become the Mets owners, the Devils will be less of a priority. It’s just the facts. Will it be the worst thing in the world? Not unless they put the coaching and GM search on the backburner while they explore this Mets sale. If not, then we’re sure they’ll figure it out.