SBD/December 14, 2011/Franchises

Sources Say Sale Of Some Minority Shares In Mets Won't Close In January As Expected

Alderson said he was not aware of the bridge loan until Monday
Mets GM Sandy Alderson yesterday indicated that the team "expected to close some sales on minority shares in January," but sources said that the club "had not decided to end sales at that time," according to Andy Martino of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. It appears Alderson "was referring to the first round of sales closing in January." The number of shares "expected to be finalized next month is not known, but the team is believed to be seeking approximately 10 minority partners to invest about $20 million apiece." An MLB official said, "It could be a rolling process." The official added that the Mets "did not yet know exactly how much revenue they needed to generate from the sales" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/14). On Long Island, David Lennon notes Alderson's comments "come on the heels of Monday's acknowledgment by the Mets of a recent bridge loan" taken to provide cash to the team until the remaining minority shares are sold. Alderson said yesterday, "I wasn't even aware of the loan until (Monday), so it couldn't have had any impact on what I've done. On the other hand, I'm not surprised that with the losses that we sustained last year, they have to be funded somehow, and that's either with cash or debt, and I think a bridge loan makes perfect sense given the investments that are expected to close in January." Asked if the Mets are "financially sound," Alderson said, "Yes, I think with this infusion of cash together with the possibility, I think the strong likelihood in the next two or three months that there will be additional investors in Mets ownership, that we should be good to go over the next couple years." But Alderson "hedged" when asked if the sale of minority shares "would help him increase payroll at some point." He said, "I think eventually, but I wouldn't expect that an influx of capital in January or February would have a major impact on our payroll for 2012, at least going into the season" (NEWSDAY, 12/14).

MEETING PAYROLL NOT A PROBLEM: Alderson appeared on Fox Business yesterday and emphatically said the idea the Mets are in danger of not meeting their payroll “is not an issue.” Fox Business’ Liz Claman asked, “So you wouldn’t fall to the same fate of the L.A. Dodgers where MLB had to come in and seize the team?” Alderson: “No. I think that had to do with a completely different set of circumstances where some of the money was being moved out of the franchise and being used for other personnel reasons. I think this is an entirely different situation. But as I said, I think with the successful infusion of capital from new investors, we will be in good shape.” Meanwhile, Alderson addressed why the team did not re-sign SS Jose Reyes, who joined the Marlins last week. He said, "What ends up happening different owners have different motivations and in this particular case they're opening a new ballpark and they expect -- or hope -- that their revenues will increase if they can put a quality team on the field. So I'm not surprised they went after Jose" (Fox Business, 12/13).

STORM BREWING: In N.Y., John Harper notes there is no "mistaking the growing concern from inside the MLB offices about the state of the franchise." An MLB official said the Mets "have a lot of things coming due," and they "need some things to happen fairly soon" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/14). Bergen Record columnist Bob Klapish said, “[MLB Commissioner] Bud Selig is going to answer questions as to why he was so harsh with Frank McCourt and the Dodgers, and rightfully so. McCourt was misappropriating funds from the Dodgers. If I'm the Mets right now, I'd start to worry about maybe Bud Selig gets to decide to apply that standard uniformly because the Mets are very close to insolvency at this point” ("Yankees Baseball Daily," YES Network, 12/13). On Long Island, Ken Davidoff asked, "At some point it has to end, right?" Davidoff: "At some point, Selig has to meet with [Mets Owner Fred] Wilpon, his longtime friend, and say, 'Dude. Enough already. Time to sell the team. You're embarrassing us.' Maybe. But we're not there yet, and as we continue to gauge the future of the Mets' ownership, we need to appreciate Selig's significant pain tolerance. If he lacks the patience of Job, then he might get the silver medal. Selig will wait, and wait, and wait, and wait some more, to get his desired resolution. He doesn't always reach where he wants to go. But by golly, he'll wait" (NEWSDAY, 12/14).
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