The Mets owners, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, are real estate guys. And next to the stadium in which their team plays is a big open space currently serving as a parking lot. Real estate guys don’t like big open spaces. They want that land to generate as much revenue as possible, and baseball parking lots don’t generate any revenue for, like, 280 days a year. As such, Wilpon, Katz and their business partners wanted to build something there: a mall.
The problem: that land is not theirs. It’s publicly-owned parkland that was designated for baseball use in 1961. Shea Stadium sat on it for decades. As a parking lot for Shea’s replacement, it’s still being used for baseball. As a mall . . . not so much.
The Wilpon/Katz-controlled entity, joined by the city, argued, rather clumsily, it seems, that a mall would TOTALLY be in the public interest because, um, well, the money from it would be used to build other public stuff later. The court didn’t buy it, and now their dreams of building a mall next to Citi Field are dead. You can read the whole decision here.
You can get away with a lot of fleecing of the public when you own a baseball team, but even then there are limits.