Yesterday’s news that the Wilpons were exploring their options and looking to sell a minority stake in the team was both surprising and yet unsurprising as well.
Surprising, because it came after many statements from the Wilpons who adamantly said time and time again, that the Madoff scandal had very little to no bearing on the Mets operation, and that the scandal was something that only affected other parts of their businesses.
Unsurprising, because the NY Post, the Daily News and the NY Times kept saying otherwise for the past 12-15 months. We all read the stories and the quotes and the tweets, but for the most part many of us ignored their claims saying it was just the media being the media. Sadly, it looks like they were right all along.
So now, the search is on for someone who has about $200 million bucks to spare, and in return they’ll get a 20-25% minority share of the Mets. Good luck with that. I just don’t think it will be that easy and besides all the complications, I don’t see the motivation for anyone to cough up that much cash with hardly any visible benefits to show for it.
Basically what the Wilpons are offering is an investment opportunity only, but these days the Mets are hardly resembling a solid investment. Consider the downside to your huge cash outlay…
1. To begin, you will have no real decision-making power on the day to day operation of the Mets. You are a minority owner and as such you must simply abide by the decisions of the majority owners, like it or not. If you thought this was your chance to play Fantasy GM, forget about it.
2. You are buying 25% of the Mets. That does not include Citi Field, the SNY Network, the Brooklyn Cyclones, or any other part of the Sterling empire. In other words your investment is in a team that has declining attendance, a tarnished brand, and a league-high payroll.
3. The risk of litigation and civil liability will hang over your head and will continue to do so for several years until this Madoff mess is finally resolved. As 25% minority owner, you also assume 25% of the liabilities as well as 25% of the profits, assuming that there are any profits. An FBI investigation is still in the offing as well as at least one major unsettled lawsuit seeking a billion dollars or more in compensation.
Sounds to me like you could do a lot better going to a roulette table in Atlantic City and betting it all on 13 black, but what do I know.
I think the Wilpons are in a very tenuous position and I feel bad for them because they are genuinely decent people who do a lot of good things for our community, for the children in our city, and for all of our soldiers and veterans.
No matter who the GM was, they accommodated each one, gave them plenty of latitude, and more importantly they paid for the National League’s highest payroll in the last decade.
You want to blame them for how the Mets have produced, that’s your prerogative, but all they were guilty of was paying for the bad decisions made by their general managers. There are over two dozen GM’s in baseball who would love to work for owners like the Wilpons.
Some may say, well the Wilpons could have overruled some of those bad decisions by their GMs. To them I ask, so you only want meddlesome owners when it’s convenient for you? You can’t have it both ways.
I wish the Wilpons well in their search for a new partner. Hopefully there is some upside that I failed to see with regard to investing a huge sum of money in this team right now.
I sincerely hope that the Wilpons come out of this ordeal intact and I honestly can’t wait for this black cloud to pass us all by.
By the way, if you’re interested in pooling your resources with other Mets fans and buying into that 25% share, check out Let’s Buy The Mets on Facebook.