Mets GM Sandy Alderson addressed a group of season ticket holders and laid down the familiar gauntlet that if the fans flock to Citi Field, the team would spend more. Really?
This is nothing new.
This front office has often cited attendance as the harbinger to more spending, but I wonder if they understand that it’s not that simple.
As long as there has been a quality product on the field that played meaningful baseball all through the final days of the season, no baseball team in this town has cried about the lack of attendance. Quite the contrary, many attendance records have been shattered.
One thing to keep in mind that it is not Sandy who sets the budget, he gets his marching orders on spending from the top, and we’ve all become accustomed to how they usually operate.
The fact that we are being told that they will increase payroll further, but only if the fans reciprocate at the gate, is bothersome to me. It just smells bad.
It’s bothersome because I’m not so sure that many of us can trust the people who make the decisions.
What if other lenders who have helped keep this team and its owners afloat, have loan covenants that prevent the Mets from exceeding a $90 million payroll?
Covenants like the ones we just learned about last week on their proposed $250 million refinancing?
Will we know in advance that the Mets have no such payroll restrictions currently in effect before we buy into their proposal and start filling Citi Field based on their word alone?
Some will say that the Wilpons have always spent in the past, and that is certainly true. But times have changed considerably on that front and as long as the Mets are leveraged in over 70% of debt, you can bet those Top-5 payrolls we once saw won’t be seen again for at least another decade. And that’s assuming they finally decide to start paying down all that insurmountable and burgeoning principal.
So that brings us to the here and now.
Ironically, the Mets are acting as though they’ve proven that their financial problems are behind them by virtue of their $90 million spending to sign Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Bartolo Colon. Sorry, no way…
That’s all fine and dandy, but in fact, the Mets currently are projected to have a lower opening day payroll than they did in 2013.
They still have time to exceed that $95 million dollar plateau, but for now they look to be about $10 million short. We haven’t seen a dime of any new spending.
So that brings us back to the matter of trust.
Do you trust ownership and the front office to spend commensurate with attendance and those exorbitant ticket prices they charge?
If we did show up and gave them a 25% increase in attendance in 2014, what do the fans get in return?
A ticket increase for a more exciting product?
What about bringing in some star attractions and ones that aren’t coming back from serious injuries or a 10 month layoff on rehab or that isn’t 41-years old?
All I’m saying is that I think the onus is on them and not the fans.
We the fans have been very patient.
We the fans have endured five years of lousy baseball and still remain steadfast and true.
What we want in addition to a great product on the field and a team that we can be proud of, is leadership we can trust.