The Wilpon-Katz-Wilpon ownership group insists that the Mets will remain in the Wilpon family although there is some evidence that the group cannot go on with the status quo any longer. The trio is looking for angel investors to help them out. For $20 million, an angel investor could buy into the Mets and get a lot of perks including a luxury box at the stadium, a chance to hang out with Mr. Met--the team's mascot--and other perks that only a well-heeled super Mets fan would want to enjoy. Wilpon-Katz-Wilpon need a number of angel investors to help out.
Wilpon-Katz-Wilpon allegedly lost $70 million last year on the baseball operations despite the relatively new stadium and the partial ownership of a cable TV regional sports network. The team still owns Major League Baseball $25 million and has to pay off a $40 million loan from Bank of America. It seems almost inconceivable that a New York baseball team with enormous revenue stream potential can be in dire financial straits.
Last week, Wilpon-Katz-Wilpon released a simple statement. "Mets Limited Partnership engaged CRG Partners to provide services in connection with financial reporting and budgeting processes,” it read.
Wilpon-Katz-Wilpon took to Twitter and released another statement. "Lots of talk about CRG. To be clear: CRG's services aren't bankruptcy-related. There are no bankruptcy services being provided by anyone."
But CRG has been involved with a Major League Baseball franchise before. The CRG was hired by Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks in an attempt to straight out Hicks's financial difficulties. Hicks eventually went bankrupt and his Texas Rangers franchise was sold off in a pre-auction.
It is doubtful that Bloomberg wants to take a closer look at what happened to the Mets. Bloomberg applauded the stadium development and the Citibank deal and that is probably something he does not want revisited particularly by Occupy Wall Street protestors who can seize the issue. It is also not Cuomo's problem or even New Jersey Governor's Chris Christie issue even though New Jersey cable TV subscribers who have no interest in the Mets are subsidizing the teams' cable TV channel.
Wilpon-Katz-Wilpon and how the trio ran the New York Mets franchise into the ground will eventually make a fascinating case study for academics and government analysts. This is more than a failing baseball operation; this is a major public policy flop.
Evan Weiner, the winner of the United States Sports Academy's 2010 Ronald Reagan Media Award, is an author, radio-TV commentator and speaker on "The Politics of Sports Business." His book, "The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition" is available at www.bickley.com and Amazon.