NY Times: Wilpons Could Owe One Billion Dollars

An article by posted on January 28, 2011

Updated Post 6:30 PM

The New York Times, citing a source, reported Irving Picard, the trustee charged with recovering funds for Madoff victims, could be seeking as much as $1 billion from the Wilpon family in the sealed lawsuit, by taking into account “their conduct” in addition to “actual Ponzi scheme gains”.

“I think Fred Wilpon has a very serious problem,” the newspaper quoted the source. “If that’s true, he might have to sell the Mets.”

Original Post 12:00 PM

Apparently something is going to be announced by the Mets according to several sources including SNY’s Ted Berg as well as Michele Steel from Bloomberg.com.

Rumors are circulating the the Wilpons may be selling part of their interest in the Mets to take on a new partner or partners.

Fred Wilpon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Mets, and Jeff Wilpon, Chief Operating Officer of the New York Mets, issued the following statement:

As we have said before, we are totally committed to having the Mets again become a World Series winner.  Our fans and all New Yorkers deserve nothing less.

As Sterling Equities announced in December, we are engaged in discussions to settle a lawsuit brought against us and other Sterling partners and members of our families by the Trustee in the Madoff bankruptcy.  We are not permitted to comment on these confidential negotiations while they are ongoing.

However, to address the air of uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win, we are looking at a number of potential options including the addition of one or more strategic partners.  To explore this, we have retained Steve Greenberg, a Managing Director at Allen & Company, as our adviser.

Regardless of the outcome of this exploration, Sterling will remain the principal ownership group of the Mets and continue to control and manage the team’s operations.  The Mets have been a major part of our families for more than 30 years and that is not going to change.

Obviously this flies in the face of all the denials the Wilpons have made regarding liquidity and financial trouble stemming from the Madoff situation in the past 18 months.

Mets have now confirmed that Madoff-related litigation has prompted them to hire a firm to explore options to potentially add a minority ownership partner.

I thought this was something interesting to think about. It’s from Crag Calcaterra at NBC Sports.

The Wilpons say in their statement — the entirety of which is reprinted below — that they intend to maintain majority control of the team.  Of course, as in war, no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy, so it’s not like they can promise that they’ll keep control.  If someone is willing to bail them out in a highly beneficial manner but demands majority control of the team, the Wilpons would have to consider it, right?

There will be a conference call at 2:15, but I have a funny feeling that they will not allow any questions and that they will simply be announcing more details to clarify their press release.

Stay tuned… much more coming…

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I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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