SBD/Issue 239/Franchises

Fred Wilpon Downplays Madoff Losses, Says He Will Not Sell Mets

Wilpon Says Madoff Losses
Well Below Reported $700M
Mets Owner Fred Wilpon Friday said that he has "no intention of selling the team," trying to "temper concerns that he and his team had been scarred financially" by the Bernie Madoff scheme, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. Wilpon asserted that the "finances of the team had not been affected." Wilpon: "I'm fine, my family's fine, my business family's fine." While Wilpon did not reveal how much he, his family or his Sterling Equities business lost in the scheme, he noted that recent estimates were "wildly inaccurate and wildly high." He said his losses were "significantly" below a recent estimate of $700M. Wilpon also stressed that the Mets are an "'emotional asset' that he was not selling." Wilpon: "My long-term goal has always been to have my son and my grandchildren involved with the Mets. ... The team is what we want for our next generation." MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy said that the Mets' financial reports have shown "no financial distress or need to worry about the team's long-term future under the Wilpons." DuPuy: "It's business as usual." Wilpon indicated that the Mets are "proceeding, as they usually do, into planning for next season." He added that the "range of resources available to him," including ticket revenue at Citi Field and an almost 70% stake in SportsNet N.Y., have "not been compromised by Madoff" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/29). Author Erin Arvedlund, who recently published "Too Good To Be True," detailing the Madoff scheme, last week said of a Mets sale, "You can quote me. It's a matter of when. It could be as soon as next year" (MARKETWATCH.com, 8/28).

MINOR LEAGUES, MAJOR PROBLEMS? Former Mets GM Jim Duquette Sunday on his Sirius XM Radio show claimed that the team has "canceled its fall instructional league for minor-leaguers in an apparent cost-cutting move." Duquette: "Now the rumors within the scouting circles are that they can't afford -- which, it roughly costs about $300,000 to staff and to invite and fly down all the players, to having meals throughout for about -- it's like a four-to-five week program." However, the Mets issued a statement in response to Duquette's comments, saying, "The club made the decision to move our fall instructional league to our new Dominican academy in Boca Chica from Port St. Lucie. We believe that by housing our minor-league players in the Dominican, we will have more opportunities to have competition against opposing teams that have training facilities nearby" (NJ.com, 8/30).

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