They’re not exactly experts at assembling a competitive and competent baseball franchise, but the Wilpons know real estate. And as they prepare to sell a majority stake in the New York Mets, COO Jeff Wilpon has been quietly building a business that will keep him in sports for years to come.
For a decade, the 58-year-old has been running a separate company that develops stadiums, complexes, and other related real estate for a fee from sports teams and leagues, according to Bloomberg.
Sterling Project Development, an offshoot of the family real estate business Sterling Equities, is working the Green Bay Packers and the New York Islanders to develop their respective mixed-use stadium complexes. SPD is also consulting with Major League Soccer to develop stadiums and has made deals to develop new headquarters for the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball in Manhattan.
The firm, which Wilpon runs with his childhood friend Richard Browne, is also working on traditional real estate projects — investment firm Square Mile Capital has hired SPD to advise on a 75-story skyscraper in Chicago and a warehouse project in the Bronx.
Wilpon’s father Fred, himself a real estate developer, is set to sell an 80 percent stake in the Mets to hedge fund mogul Steven Cohen. Wilpon said there’s plenty of demand for SPD’s services and that he plans to grow the company “organically.”
“I am not out there gunning to pay the highest price for a piece of dirt to go be the developer,” Wilpon said. “I think the business is good enough the way it is that if we keep growing it and it’s organically growing, we’ve got plenty of things to do.” [Bloomberg] – Dennis Lynch