A general view as the New York Mets play the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

New York Mets Bringing On Minority Owners

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Bill Maher Joins New York Mets As Minority Owner

Comedian Bill Maher is a new limited parter of the New York Mets, according to CBSSports.com.

Maher bought one of the minority partnerships that the Mets started to offer in December. Those shares were reportedly $20 million -- and they included a meet-and-greet with Mr. Met, though there were no financial terms released with the Maher deal.

Maher said that he grew up a Mets and Yankees fan, though in recent years he's been known to rock the Mets hat more.

"I was so not a fan of George Steinbrenner that he turned me off to that franchise," Maher said. "I don't think he represented what New York should be."

He gives a couple more quotes in the article, but he doesn't crack wise, which is disappointing. Here are the jokes I totally would have told:

"We have to sign him. We don't want him to be known as David Left."

"And then I was all, yeah, don't let the door hit you on Reyes on your way out."

"Has anyone ever noticed that R.A. Dickey has a funny name?"

Looking for a writer, Bill? Call me. I'm around.


NY DAILY NEWS: Mets Repay Loan To MLB, Sell 12 Minority Shares

Just a few days ago, it appeared that the New York Mets could be headed for serious financial trouble; they were on their way to a court date that could have cost them over $300 million and forced Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax to testify.

Earlier Monday, the Mets reached a settlement in the Madoff trustee case that will cost them far less, and later in the day there was more good news. New York Daily News:

The owners of the Mets have closed deals to sell 12 shares of the team and have repaid their $25 million loan to Major League Baseball, a $40 million loan to Bank of America and additional club debt, according to sources familiar with the sale.

Among the buyers of the 12 shares is hedge-fund investor Steve Cohen, who is also among the bidders interested in buying the Dodgers. He can still buy the Dodgers if he’s the winning bidder, but would then have to divest the Mets minority share.

In any case, a team that just recently appeared in serious financial difficulty could be on its way to a more stable footing that could allow their owners to again become competitive on the field, which is the entire point of owning a baseball team.


Mets, Madoff Trustee Settle For $162 Million

The mess the New York Mets were in regarding money they had been sued for by the trustee for the victims in the Bernie Madoff scandal could have gotten real ugly had it gone to trial.

Fortunately for the Mets, that won’t happen. ESPN New York:

The New York Mets’ owners and the trustee for Madoff fraud victims have settled for $162 million.

The announcement came Monday morning as jury selection was set to begin in the civil trial that would have determined how much the Mets’ owners would have owed other investors who trusted their money to corrupt financier Bernard Madoff.

The Mets owners will not pay anything for three years.

Perhaps the most important note there is “three years” — that could give Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz enough time to get the financially troubled franchise back to solid ground, or perhaps even sell the team. Even better news for the Mets:

Had they gone to trial, they could have owed another $303 million. Lawyers for the Mets have said they planned to call pitcher Sandy Koufax to testify on their behalf. He invested with Madoff, too.

So they saved some money and didn’t have to embarrass a Hall of Famer by putting him on the witness stand.

The Mets may not have very many wins on the field in 2012, but they can likely count this as one.


N.Y. Times: Mets Ordered To Pay Madoff Trustee $83 Million

There’s a further update from a New York courtroom in the Bernie Madoff trustee trial. Why is this here at Baseball Nation? Because it involves the owners of the New York Mets. Richard Sandomir:

Jed S. Rakoff, a district court judge, not only rejected a bid by the team’s owners to have the remaining claims of a lawsuit filed by the trustee for the victims of Bernard L. Madoff’s fraud dismissed, but he also decided that the trustee was entitled to collect up to $83 million in fictitious profits from the men. He said the exact amount would be determined in a "subsequent order."

The article goes on to say that if the case were to go to trial, Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz “could” be liable for up to $300 million in damages. This cannot be good news for the already financially-troubled franchise, so let us leave it to FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris to lend some humor:

He’s referring not only to this issue, but also to the revelation over the weekend that Mets first baseman Ike Davis probably has Valley Fever.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, etc.


Jury To Decide Mets' Liability In Madoff Case

Disclaimer: I have as much business writing about financial matters as I do writing about cricket. But we have an update on the financial mess of the New York Mets and the Bernie Madoff lawsuit from Richard Sandomir:

A federal judge’s ruling Monday in Manhattan will determine the fate of the Mets’ owners in their protracted legal fight against the trustee for the victims of Bernard L. Madoff.

To recap, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz were included in a lawsuit brought by the trustee of Madoff victims. One of their significant combined assets is the New York Metropolitan Baseball Club, Inc., whose revenues might be used to pay a possible legal settlement of up to $386 million. Or, in legal terms, a three-Zito fine. And on Monday, the news wasn't good for the Mets.

The judge could have let the Mets off the hook, but instead he'll leave the decision to a jury. The possibility of being held liable hung over the head of the Mets' owners all offseason, and it was one of the reasons Wilpon gave for cutting costs.


Mets' Fred Wilpon Talks About Minority Shares, David Wright, And Cash On Hand

Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon gave an interview to reporters, among them ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, who helpfully transcribed Wilpon’s answers. When asked about how the team’s sale of minority shares was going, Wilpon said:

And we’re proceeding with bringing in partners. We have seven partners … in terms of groups. We have seven whose money is in escrow because they’ve been through major league baseball. We have two that are ready to almost finalize in Major League Baseball, and a couple of others that are in the process. It’s a real process. If you have three, four people in your group, everybody is vetted. They’re all in there. And we hope to be able to close that out shortly."

Good thing they have a “real process”. Because you surely wouldn’t want a phony one. Regarding his team in 2012:

Well, you know, you always want to feel good and optimistic. I think what Terry [Collins] and Sandy [Alderson] have said is that we’re going to surprise a lot of people. I think we have very good players.

What would you expect an owner to say? That his team is awful and is likely going to finish last? That’s for us writers to say, not a team owner. It was almost silly to even ask. He was asked about keeping David Wright, and didn’t answer that, but he loves Wright:

I think there’s no finer guy. He’s just a very fine young man. Any of us who are old enough to have him as a son would be proud to have him as a son.

But perhaps the most telling note about the team’s finances was tweeted by a different reporter, Andy McCullough:

Fives. Well, that’s good. Maybe he’s on his way to buy some MegaMillons tickets with those fives. He could use that money.


Mets Get Seven Investment Shares Sold, Or Not

New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, bleeding cash, have been seeking 10 investors willing to put up $20 million each, for a $200 million infusion of money into the troubled franchise.

ESPN New York reports the team might be 70 percent of the way there, or perhaps not:

The report was immediately disputed. Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal wrote via Twitter: “Firm commitments, but $ not yet in hand. Mets want to line up three more buyers and close on all 10 sales at once, for total of $200 million, says source with knowledge of process. That said, I’d be surprised if it took much longer. ‘They can see the finish line,’ source said.”

The ESPN New York report quoted a Newsday report which had a decided lack of comment:

Another source identified one of the investors as billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen. The Mets declined to comment on the status of the sales or Cohen’s involvement. A spokesman for Cohen declined to comment.

So the Mets either have the money, or they don’t. The report identified the New York Times and one of Fred Wilpon’s sons, as well as Katz himself, as possible buyers of some of the shares.

Sounds like a proverbial rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic.


The Mets, Bernie Madoff, And The 'Vig'

In which the Mets get an offer they can't refuse.


The Return Of The Mets (Postponed)

The New York Mets are paupers now. We're all used to this. Here's one more reminder that it's kind of strange.


Mets Expect To Sell 10 Shares Of Team

It used to be that the Mets were one of the financial powerhouses in baseball. When the Twins didn't think they could afford Johan Santana, the Mets relieved them of that burden. When the Marlins didn't think they could keep Carlos Delgado, the Mets were there. Both the Marlins and Twins should have larger team payrolls than the Mets in 2012.

In an effort to dig up out of the mess they're in, the Mets decided to sell minority shares, complete with a chance to meet Mr. Met in person! I wonder if he's like the tabloids say he is.

But while the supposed perks of a non-controlled stake in the Mets were initially amusing, it turns out that they're progressing nicely with the sale of them. From Newsday:

The Mets expect to sell 10 minority shares of the team by the end of February, a person familiar with the process said Monday. The units, priced at $20 million each, would raise $200 million for the cash-strapped franchise and be used to pay existing loans and operating expenses for 2012.

Whatever the perks are, there isn't a shortage of rich folks looking to own a chunk of the Mets. They'll almost certainly get back to fiscal health, but it will probably take a while. This sale is the first step.


Do The Mets Have Any Money? 'Probably Not', Says Amazin' Avenue

The New York Mets have been in financial trouble for quite some time; owner Fred Wilpon tried to sell part of the team to hedge fund manager David Einhorn last summer in an effort to get some cash, but that deal fell through.

Now, SB Nation’s Mets blog Amazin’ Avenue has an in-depth look at the team’s finances; it’s all worth reading, but the summary is pretty bleak:

Right now, the Mets are running serious losses annually — even including their profit share from SNY. There’s no easy way for them to get enough cash to run the team, unless the Wilpons keep putting money in (if they can), and the current plan has a $240 million price tag attached to it, due 2017. They could sell a lot of their SNY stake, but that’d be a very painful sale — and perhaps one fatal to the Wilpons’ efforts to maintain their ownership of the team.

SNY is the regional sports network that is partly owned by the team; SNY also has debt, and Amazin’ Avenue points out that even if the Mets sold their interest in the team, it wouldn’t solve all the financial issues.

The upcoming season is likely to be a tough one for the Mets from a financial standpoint, even if they can manage to put a competitive team on the field.


Mets' Minority Interest Sale To David Einhorn Dead

The New York Mets have been bleeding cash all season, and owner Fred Wilpon’s business dealings with convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff are under investigation; Wilpon could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.

In an effort to infuse cash into the team, a minority interest was supposed to be sold to hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

Thursday, it was announced that the deal with Einhorn had fallen through:

Einhorn, president of the investment firm Greenlight Capital, issued a statement saying that the deal changed at the last minute before falling apart.

“I am disappointed to announce that I will not be purchasing an ownership interest in the New York Mets baseball team at this time,” he said. “It is clear that it will not be possible for me to consummate the transaction on the terms that the Sterling-Mets organization and I originally agreed to several months ago. The extensive nature of changes that were proposed to me at the last minute has made a successful transaction impossible.”

The Mets and Einhorn had an exclusive negotiating window, which is now closed. The Mets will seek other bidders for this minority stake in the team, according to Wilpon:

“We are very confident in the team’s plans — both off and on the field,” said Mets chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon. “We will engage with other individuals, some who have been previously vetted by Major League Baseball, along with other interested parties, regarding a potential minority investment into the franchise. My partners and I thank David for his interest in considering this opportunity and wish him well in the future.”

For more on this story, please visit SB Nation New York and our SB Nation Mets site Amazin’ Avenue.


Mets Expected To Announce Sale Of Minority Interest In Team

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who recently announced the team was "bleeding cash" and could lose up to $70 million in 2011, is expected to announce today that a less-than-49% minority stake in the team has been sold to hedge fund manager David Einhorn, according to ESPN New York.

The sale is being done primarily to bring the team an infusion of cash and does not include any interest in SNY, the regional sports TV network in New York started by and owned by Wilpon.

Wilpon has been in the news recently not only for losing much of his personal fortune in the Bernie Madoff scandal, but for comments he made about Mets players in an article by Jeffrey Toobin in this week's New Yorker magazine. He is the longest-running current owner in MLB; Wilpon and his partner Saul Katz, along with some cash from the Doubleday publishing family, purchased the Mets in 1980.

For more on this story, please visit SB Nation New York and our SB Nation Mets site Amazin' Avenue.

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