SBD/February 16, 2011/Franchises

Trump Looking To Meet With Wilpon About Possible Mets Ownership

Trump interested in majority ownership of Mets, but may consider lesser stake
Donald Trump yesterday said that he called Mets Owner Fred Wilpon "about two weeks ago to arrange a face-to-face meeting to discuss the potential sale of the club," according to Cowan & Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Trump noted that the meeting has not been held, and indicated that he "would be interested only in buying a majority stake in the team." Trump, referring to himself in the third person, said, "If you look at Trump’s record, he is only interested in things he can control." Wilpon last month said that he is "seeking a buyer for as much as 25 percent of the club because of the uncertainty stemming" from a lawsuit brought by the trustee in Bernie Madoff’s bankruptcy case. Trump said, "The Wilpons are friends of mine, and I really hope it works out great for them. But if anything doesn’t work out for them, I’d be interested in the team." Sources indicated that former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato "has encouraged Trump to pursue a stake in the Mets" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16). In a separate interview yesterday, Trump said that he "wouldn't demand majority ownership" of the Mets. Trump: "I may be willing to buy a portion. It's not my history, but I might be willing if it helped [Wilpon]" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/16). On Long Island, Anthony Rieber notes "one major hurdle for Trump" is MLB's rule against having a team owner who also is "involved with casinos." Trump owns a stake in Trump Entertainment Resorts, which owns three casinos in Atlantic City. Trump is the "latest of a select group to publicly announce interest in buying the team," joining Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban, Glaceau co-Founder Mike Repole and Martin Luther King III, son of the late civil rights leader (NEWSDAY, 2/16).

GROUP MENTALITY: In N.Y., Kaja Whitehouse reports a "group of Big Apple wheelers and dealers from investment bank and brokerage firm Tritaurian Capital have concocted an ingenious plan" to buy the Mets from Wilpon "by selling $999 shares to thousands of Mets fans." James Preissler, John Calce and William Heyn have teamed to form BuytheMets.com Ltd., and are "currently seeking investment partners" through the website, which launched today. The $999 per-share price "does not include credit-card processing and other fees, which Preissler says will range from $40 to $100 per transaction." He added that "if the deal falls through, the investors get their money back, minus the fees" (N.Y. POST, 2/16).

ENTER SANDMAN: Mets GM Sandy Alderson yesterday reiterated that he "did not expect the entanglement of the team’s ownership" in the $1B lawsuit to "affect his handling of the baseball operation." Alderson said, "Anything we do is going to be viewed through the prism of what’s going on in New York. All I can do is try to make the best baseball judgments. And, at this point, I’m not facing any limitations. And, at this point, I don’t expect to." He added, "I think it’s important for ownership that the focus here be on baseball" (NYTIMES.com, 2/15). In N.Y., Harvey Araton writes what the Wilpons "can best do for Alderson, their players and fans right now is to stay away, out of sight and eventually, with any luck, out of mind." Let Alderson and his baseball operations team "try to steer this ship gone aground back into Flushing Bay" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/16).
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