Fred Wilpon is hemorrhaging enough debt to leave him with no other choice than to sell the Mets. The bad news is he might screw this up as well.
Fred Wilpon, the principal owner of the New York Mets, winces every time the phone rings these days. Or maybe it’s just the recurring thought of the dream he has at night that the goon squad from JPMorgan Chase is on the other end wondering where the $250 million is that they loaned to him.
More than likely, though, all calls of this nature are handed off to Allen & Co., the outfit employed by Wilpon to handle the sale of the Mets.
For Mets fans, hiring a company that specializes in these transactions is a welcome sign that Fred Wilpon will not be shooting himself in the foot again with another deal that falls through at the last moment.
Fred Wilpon: A Rush To Exit Door
In early 2020, a deal worth a reported $2.6 billion with hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen was on the verge of completion when Cohen sought to alter the part of the agreement that pertained to the timetable (five years) for full control of the team.
This go-around is different, though, as insiders with the Mets have told the New York Post that “the Wilpons must find a buyer in the coming weeks to close a deal by the end of 2020”.
With the impact of the shortened MLB season (est. $200 million loss), $45 million (Citi Field arrears), and the quarter of a billion-dollar loan due in July, Fred Wilpon is now facing a market that puts him at the wrong end of a deal.
Remarkably, Fred Wilpon, with a team in the biggest market in major league baseball, has managed to lose $60 million in a typical season. But then again, this is the same Wilpon family that lost millions when they joined forces with Bernie Madoff seeking to earn a quick buck.
Mets Sale: No Shortage Of Buyers
The number of potential buyers increases almost daily. Grabbing the most print are the reports Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez are working with high-level bankers at JPMorgan Chase on their own high-profile bid.
That same source also expected new bids on the team to come in at more than $2 billion, citing increased revenue from MLB’s new TV deal with Turner Sports and a potential new deal with ESPN as a positive for the Mets’ valuation.
Harris and Blitzer have their opening bid in well before the deadline. The prominent sports owners are opening the bidding at $1.4 billion for the Mets alone and minus SNY, an entity Fred Wilpon wants to keep.
Others are expected to join the bidding war. Still, Fred Wilpon should be kicking himself for not selling to an overanxious Steve Cohen back in February, making it (now) nearly impossible to reach $2.6 billion.
Fred Wilpon’s Demise Is Just Desserts For Mets Fans
Even with knowing the grass is not always greener on the other side, Mets fans will take anyone but Fred Wilpon and his family to own and run the New York Mets.
Dysfunction or excellence begins at the top of any business entity or organization.
It hasn’t helped to witness the contrast between the malfunction of the Wilpons, and the modeled excellence of the Mets cross-town rival New York Yankees, operating under the direction of Hal Steinbrenner and Co.
The flawed and broken Mets organization has been explored numerous times on these pages. Fred Wilpon and his son Jeff have rightfully felt the full brunt of criticisms directed their way.
Regrettably, Fred Wilpon will not be thinking, if he ever did, of the team he owns, and what’s best for the players, front office, and fans when the team is eventually sold to a new owner(s).
Worst case, it’s another one of those “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” stories that are not destined to end well.
Best case, the new owner is a baseball person whose heart and soul are connected to the game. I don’t need to spell out, even given his checkered past, who that person should be…