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Sheldon Adelson has ‘no interest’ in buying stake in Mets, representative says

A representative for Sheldon Adelson cried foul Wednesday in response to a report that the Las Vegas gaming executive had joined a group seeking to buy the New York Mets.

The New York Post on Wednesday cited unnamed sources in reporting that Adelson and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners had joined Josh Harris and David Blitzer, the owners of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, in an effort to purchase the Major League Baseball franchise.

Ron Reese, spokesman for Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp., denied the Post report.

“No bid, no interest,” Reese told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

If Adelson was interested in being a part-owner of a MLB team, it could be allowed if the team was taken off the board at the sportsbooks at his casinos inside The Venetian and Palazzo, according to an Associated Press report. CG Technology operates the sportsbooks at The Venetian and Palazzo.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the AP after an owners meeting in February that there could be an exception to that rule if safeguards were built in. Those would include promising no controlled input from the baseball club to the betting operator and that the betting operator is independent.

Manfred declined to provide comment to the Review-Journal on the Post report.

Adelson was a key player in the relocation of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, pledging $650 million toward the then-$1.9 billion stadium project, but he later withdrew his financing and involvement. The Raiders filled that funding gap with a $650 million loan from Bank of America. The Raiders’ new Las Vegas home, Allegiant Stadium, is on track to be substantially completed this month.

The Mets have a former Las Vegas tie: The city’s Triple-A baseball team, now named the Aviators, was the Mets’ top minor league affiliate from 2013 to 2018 when it was known as the 51s.

The publisher Doubleday & Co. bought the Mets in 1980 from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95 percent of the team and real estate developer Fred Wilpon controlling 5 percent.

Wilpon became majority owner in 2002 and at one time built it into the sixth most valuable MLB franchise.

However, the team was collateral damage from a 2012 lawsuit against Wilpon by victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, leaving the franchise in dire financial straits. Wilpon sold 20 minority shares of the team at 4 percent each ($20 million), providing the team a $240 million cash infusion.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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