Mets Need Financial Help, Madoff Fallout Bigger Than Wilpons Admitted?

We don't yet have full details -- and it's not clear that we ever will -- but despite the posturing by Fred and Jeff Wilpon over the past couple of years that the Mets-related side of their finances had nothing to do with their involvement in Bernie Madoff's now-famous Ponzi scheme, it seems that they haven't been totally forthright with the ticket-buying public. The Wilpons just issued a press release indicating that they will look to bring on "one or more strategic partners" to presumably help defray any losses they incurred (or may incur) related to the Madoff incident (this could be actual losses to Madoff or, more likely, money returned to other investors by way of the lawsuit brought against the Wilpons and others among the few actual beneficiaries of the scheme). It's also likely that the ongoing slump in the commercial real estate market isn't doing the Wilpons and Sterling Equities any favors, either.

Here is the press release.

As Sterling Equities announced in December, we are engaged in discussions to settle a lawsuit brought against us and other Sterling partners and members of our families by the Trustee in the Madoff bankruptcy. We are not permitted to comment on these confidential negotiations while they are ongoing.

However, to address the air of uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win, we are looking at a number of potential options including the addition of one or more strategic partners. To explore this, we have retained Steve Greenberg, a Managing Director at Allen & Company, as our advisor.

Regardless of the outcome of this exploration, Sterling will remain the principal ownership group of the Mets and continue to control and manage the team’s operations. The Mets have been a major part of our families for more than 30 years and that is not going to change.

As we have said before, we are totally committed to having the Mets again become a World Series winner. Our fans and all New Yorkers deserve nothing less.

The Wilpons aren't going to sell the team, but they will look to add some minority investors in the club, and by "minority" I think we're still looking at something on the order of $100 million. If the Wilpons needed just a few million dollars in order to maintain the fiscal solvency required to run the Mets they could get that from any number of people and there never would have been a press release. We're surely talking about a lot of money here.

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