The Wilpon family, owners of 100% of the New York Mets, have recently stated that they will entertain offers to sell up to 25% of the team. The family had previously said they never wanted to give up any portion of the team, but a recent lawsuit related to the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme has forced them to rethink that stance. The lawsuit reportedly seeks to recover between $300 million and $1 billion from the Wilpons, money that would be used to compensate the other Madoff victims.
The Wilpons, largely-known for their real estate success, have consistently said that the Madoff scandal would not affect the Mets financially. This lawsuit essentially aims to prove that the family actually profited from the scheme. If that is the case, then the sale of 25% of the team — recently valued by Forbes at upwards of $800 million — likely wouldn’t even be enough to cover the low end of the lawsuit estimates.
Martin Luther King III, son of the late Civil Rights pioneer, is part of a group that has stated they would like to purchase at least 50% of the Mets. That’s obviously much more than the Wilpons want to give up, but if they are forced to pay much more than $300 million, they may not have a choice but to sell a larger portion than they’d like. King’s involvement offers a nice symmetry, considering the focal point of Citi Field is the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. Though Robinson never played for the Mets — he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, the same year the Mets were founded — the Wilpons chose to honor the man who broke baseball’s color barrier years before King’s father would become the most prominent Civil Rights activist in American history.
Whatever happens, it’s unlikely to appease many Mets fans who have been calling for the complete sale of the team for a few years, mainly due to the Wilpon’s reluctance to relieve former GM Omar Minaya of his duties after a string of collapses and bad contracts. Now, being considered less-than-competent owners of a baseball team seems like the least of their problems. They may never go broke, but it looks like the Wilpon treasure chest is going to take a major hit, along with their pride.Google+