SBD/March 16, 2011/Franchises

MLB Franchise Notes: MLB Places Limits On Sale Of Mets' Debt

Mets ownership may benefit from restrictions on the resale of some team debt
The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Smith & Futterman reported MLB has "instituted restrictions on the resale of some team debt" to protect the Mets "from pressure by so-called vulture investors as the team tries to sell a minority stake." Sources said that the restrictions "bar banks that hold $375 million of Mets team debt from reselling the debt to hedge funds without league approval." They "could help protect the team from investors who buy distressed debt and then seek to profit, often by pushing for a restructuring or a bankruptcy filing." Some investors "think the rules could limit the club's options as it struggles to right its finances and find a minority buyer." Smith & Futterman noted the restrictions "were included in a $375 million loan obtained by the Mets last June from a bank group led by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co." (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/15).

PROGRESSIVE APPROACH: MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reported Indians President Mark Shapiro is "trying to find ways to simultaneously improve the product on and off the field" with Cleveland's population "at a 100-year low and the Indians' attendance among the lowest in baseball." The team will hold the "Indians Music Festival" on June 11 this year, "another experiment within the Indians' attempts to find creative ways to boost revenue." The team "named the event the 'Indians Music Festival' because it is not expected to be a one-time show," as Shapiro "hopes to have more concerts in the future with different varieties of music." However, Bastian noted events such as the festival and the "Snow Days" held at the ballpark this offseason "are not taking priority." Shapiro and new Exec VP & GM Chris Antonetti "first and foremost ... want to build a franchise that can have a sustained period of winning" (MLB.com, 3/14).

GETTING A BOOST: In Cincinnati, Laura Baverman reported the Reds' "earliest projections put ticket sales up 10 percent for 2011 -- filling a total of 2.3 million seats." Reds VP/Ticket Sales John Davis said that "up to a third of 3.4 million available seats will be sold prior to Opening Day." Additionally, "about 20 percent of all season ticket holders this year are new" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 3/12).
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