Forgive me if I’m not optimistic about the Wilpons’ chances of finding “strategic partners” who will gladly fork over millions in exchange for a minority share of the team, leaving the Wilpons in control. Why am I skeptical? Because the last time a baseball owner was in deep financial trouble and sought minority investors, it didn’t quite turn out the way he planned:
“I’ve been quietly looking for minority investors to come back into the ownership of the Rangers as a way to be prudent in a bad economy,” [Tom] Hicks said. “I’m doing the same thing with the Stars. At the end of the day, I’ll still have 51-to-60 percent of the ballclub and have new partners. That doesn’t change anything.
A little less than a year later Tom Hicks was being squeezed out completely while Mark Cuban and Chuck Greenberg fought tooth-and-nail for total control of the Texas Rangers.
It’s just a simple fact of investment life: minority shares in non-public entities are not worth anything close to what a controlling interest is worth. Perhaps the Mets, who likely have a much better potential cashflow than most teams, will still be an attractive investment who is merely interested in saying they own a piece of the team. But if the Rangers example is any indication, there aren’t a whole hell of a lot of people who want to be silent partners when the majority owner asking for a handout is in financial distress.
The Mets are an extremely valuable property. Their owners are in financial trouble. This is what most savvy investors call “an opportunity.” It strains credulity to think that people won’t make some offers for control of the Mets that the Wilpons find awfully hard to refuse.