The Mets’ talking points have been that, were it not for the Madoff lawsuit, everything would have been hunky dory financially speaking. The New York Times reports this morning, however, that such is not the case:
When the owners of the Mets said in late January that they would seek buyers for up to 25 percent of the club, they cited “the air of uncertainty” created by the $1 billion lawsuit brought by Irving H. Picard, the trustee representing the victims of Bernard L. Madoff’sPonzi scheme.
But a look at the team’s financial condition — gleaned from public financial documents and numerous interviews — suggests the team may well have needed the proceeds from selling part of the team regardless of the suit.
The Times says that the team realized significantly lower revenues upon moving into Citi Field than they had anticipated and that combined with (a) the overall financial downturn; and (b) less-than-stellar on-the-field performances led to the Mets seeking investors on the down low prior to the lawsuit and their public announcement that they were looking for a cash influx.
The lawsuit is there now, of course, and that certainly trumps whatever cash flow issues the Wilpons were facing before in terms of financial uncertainty. But potential investors aren’t going to be on the hook in the lawsuit. They are, however, going to depend on Mets’ cash flow in order to vindicate their investment. If it’s less rosy than we suspect, it may be harder to justify taking the plunge.