The Mets are moving ever closer to a sale of the team. But where is Mayor DeBlasio’s interest in a side deal with the bidders to clean up an NYC eyesore?
Writers Note And Update 7/24/20
Before you delve into my article, we know there are always multiple sides to every story. I appreciate the feedback I’m receiving, and I would be remiss to not make available, for instance, the compelling writing of and a story she did for the New York Times, titled The End Of Willets Point.
Steve Contursi, Reflections On Baseball – Please Continue
The sale of the Mets is a significant and rare event. As it should, nearly all of the attention is being paid to the actual purchase of the team – the bidders, the price, and what might be in store for the future of the team, depending on who the buyer is.
But there is another level of the sale that, regrettably, is being ignored. Ironically, it has nothing to do with Fred Wilpon, Major League Baseball, or the actual terms of the Mets sale.
Still, it has everything to do with one of the biggest eyesores and missed opportunities in New York City.
I’m referring to the blight surrounding Citi Field’s “neighborhood,” known as Willets Point. According to the 2011 U.S. Census, Willets Point had a population of 10.
The condition of the area can only be described with images, not words. (several are shown throughout)
More significantly, where have these government officials, from Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Congressman Gregory Meeks to Mayor Bill DeBlasio, to NYC Councilman Francisco Moya been?
And why aren’t they not taking steps to meet with high roller bidders to buy the Mets like Steve Cohen and the groups put together by Alex Rodriguez and Josh Harris to push for a commitment to developing the area known as Willets Point?
Cafes, restaurants, bars, movie theatres, hotels – there is not one within walking distance from Citi Field. Take your family to a Mets game – that’s it.
Forget it if the kids are hungry before the gates open, or if you’d like to have a beer, or even better if you’d like to eat “real food” at a restaurant before the game.
Challenging The Mets Buyers – Where Is It?
Steve Cohen and Josh Harris have deep pockets (the Rodriguez group not so much), and they both have a keen eye for making money. Developing the acreage around Citi Field seems like a no-brainer – but first, the idea needs to be pitched to them by the powers that be in New York.
At the moment, there isn’t a pitch coming from anyone. And maybe that’s because politicians fly by the seat of their pants, and because there won’t be fans in the seats this year and into next season – it’s not something immediate – so why bother with it?
Or, could it be that many of those body shops are associated with – shall we say – not the finest citizens NYC has to offer?
But Eminent Domain (right of the government to seize property for the betterment of the people) is the stick, and the usually higher than the market value paid for the property the carrot.
In a twist, this would be like making the body shop owners and other businesses an offer they can’t refuse.
In any event, the opportunity is now, and discussions separate from the Mets sale should be taking place to secure a commitment of X amount of dollars towards developing the neighborhood.
Moreover, all government parties, upon receiving those bids from Mets buyers, must make it known to MLB and the general public – “Hey, we want this guy.”
Mets Sale Is An Opportunity That Can’t Be Wasted.
Having an absentee owner is the worst outcome the city, and not to mention Mets fans and MLB, can have. Investment and interest in the team’s community should be a must before a team is sold.
The Wilpons could give a horse’s ass about that, and MLB, in the name of other team owners, will feel the same.
The blight of with the missed economic opportunity, is (totally) a local issue, and as such, it can only be rectified by local government officials.
If as reported, Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez are as serious as their visit with Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, would seem to indicate, they deserve the immediate attention of Mayor DeBlasio.
Reportedly, they met for five hours, and the only topic discussed was to pick Kraft’s brain on how he developed the property around Gillette Stadium.
DeBlasio should be knocking on their door to find out more. And if he isn’t, Mets fans and New Yorkers should want to know why.
As mentioned before, the pictures tell the story. Bill DeBlasio – what say you?