Richard Sandomir of the NY Times writes that MLB is growing concerned with the Mets’ mounting debt and falling revenues.
But the Mets worry Major League Baseball enough to be seen as a troubled franchise on a short tether. Their $430 million loan on the team is due in 2014. Their $25 million loan from M.L.B. is past due and repayment has been extended. They recently borrowed $40 million from Bank of America.
Their valuable network, SNY, is also heavily leveraged, to the tune of $450 million, a loan that must be repaid in 2015. And the Mets’ Citi Field bond payments leapt from $19 million last year to $43.7 million.
That is a lot of borrowing for a team that lost $70 million last season and had faltering attendance.
The Mets declined to comment on the situation or about allegations made by Howard Megdal of the Journal News in a new eBook entitled “Wilpon’s Folly”, but they did issue the following statement: “We do not publicly address specific issues pertaining to our finances including inaccurate, speculative and ongoing fabrications.”
The column also speculates that while Bud Selig was quick to react to similar situations with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Ddogers, “he has indulged Wilpon, a friend and ally for 30 years.”
Selig may never tell Wilpon he has to sell. But Selig could be waiting for banks to grow so concerned that they demand that Wilpon sell the team he has owned, outright since 2002, to recover all they are owed.
If that’s true, Wilpon may still be able to last another couple of years after receiving a $40 million dollar bridge loan to cover upcoming debt payments. Additionally, if the $200 million dollars he expects to raise from selling individual $20 million dollar stakes come through, he may even be able to ride this storm out entirely.
Still the situation is very tenuous and difficult to predict, so in the meantime expect things to get much worse before they get better – if they get better at all.
Meanwhile, Sandy Alderson is on hand to continue cutting payroll and moving as many high-priced players as he can – at least those whose contracts are movable. Wright fits that description to a tee and I expect his days as a Met are numbered.