Amid fresh non-news that the Mets are still in debt, Amway has moved into a storefront at Citi Field.(9)
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 was a landmark day for Fred Wilpon and the New York Mets.(1)
Madoff-victim trustee says he lost interest in pursuing the Mets owners because they didn't have money
Following the settlement last month between Fred Wilpon and his partners, owners of the New York Mets, and Irving Picard, trustee for the Bernie Madoff victims, avoiding a March 19 trial in which Picard was suing Wilpon and his partners for $386 million, Wilpon and his partners claimed to have been vindicated.(4)
The Mets ownership group may yet lose control of their baseball team—possibly quite soon—but it won't be because of the massive, high-profile lawsuit brought against them by the trustee for the victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme.
The last thing we heard from the New York Mets ownership group about their fight for financial survival--not counting the increasingly complicated legal portion of that fight--was Fred Wilpon's anecdotal progress report on the team's attempts to sell ten $20 million minority stakes in the team to pay short-term debts had been finalized.(3)
As the legal and financial walls close in on Fred Wilpon and his partners, the owners of the New York Mets, their one reliable ally has been Federal District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff. Debts are coming due and Wilpon is being sued by the trustee for the victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme for an amount that he can't afford.
Notes on a Ponzi scheme: How Picard will try to hobble the Wilpon witnesses before they even get going
Considering that the owners of the New York Mets and the trustee for the victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme are selling two very different versions of events—the trustee is suing for an amount of money that would likely break the owners financially, or at least force them to sell the team—the witness lists both sides have submitted for the upcoming trial in Southern District Court look awfully similar.
Before the Mets-Madoff trial: Wilpon and company want to ban the phrase 'other people's money'; Picard wants to ban Sandy Koufax
New York Mets C.E.O. Fred Wilpon and his partners have asked a judge to bar the trustee for the victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme from using the phrase “other people’s money” when talking about the money Madoff paid to them.
The trustee for the Madoff victims, Irving Picard, has asked the same judge to disallow testimony from four distinguished witnesses for the Wilpon side, two of whom of Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax and former Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau. He's also asked that the Wilpon group not be allowed to discuss his team's legal fees.(1)
As of now, the Mets ownership group will have to reckon with a bottom-line judgment or a trial in a lawsuit brought against them by Irving Picard, the trustee for the Bernie Madoff victims.
Judge throws out two experts hostile to the Wilpon partners, but the most damning witness still looms
Fred Wilpon and his partners in Mets ownership could really use a win.
Their team, with its payroll ravaged by the owners' financial missteps, has struggled on the field. They lost hundreds of millions of dollars when Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme was exposed, after relying on that same scheme for years as a steady source of cash. They are approaching repayment deadlines on hundreds of millions in debt against their baseball team, their cable network and their stadium.
Here we go again.
Newsday reported on Wednesday evening that Fred Wilpon and his partners, who own the New York Mets, had reached an agreement to sell seven minority shares in the club. Only one buyer, Steven A. Cohen, manager of the hedge fund SAC Partners, was identified.
The whistleblower returns: Noreen Harrington, once the star witness in a Spitzer crusade, testifies that the Mets owners knew about Madoff
For just over a year now, the evidence facing Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz and the other Sterling Equities partners who own the New York Mets has been debated in court filings from Wilpon's attorneys, as well as the filings of the trustee for the Bernie Madoff victims, Irving Picard.
And with the $386 million lawsuit brought by Picard against Wilpon and his partners—who are already under great financial strain and struggling to hold on to the Mets—speeding toward a March 19 trial, the latest court filings include testimony from a woman whose contention about what the partners knew and when they knew it could decide the whole ballgame.(8)
More than three months ago, Irving Picard, the trustee for the Bernie Madoff victims, sought expedited answers to a number of questions in his lawsuit against Mets owner Fred Wilpon and his Sterling Partners through interlocutory appeal, or an appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals prior to completion of the March 19 trial in Federal District Court.(6)
The fact that the New York Mets' ownership group has hired turnaround consultants CRG Partners, in light of where the team stands financially, makes perfect sense. The legal and financial walls are closing in on Fred Wilpon and his partners, and they've tried everything else.
Back in late November, the Wilpon group staved off their day of accounting with a $40 million bridge loan, largely for the purpose of making a debt payment of roughly $26 million against Citi Field that was due on Dec. 15, and to cover other operating costs.(6)
2011 was not a good year for Fred Wilpon, his partners or, related, the Mets. Things are not looking much better for 2012.
In fact, it is getting hard to keep track of the number of fronts on which Wilpon and the other partners in Sterling Equities, the company that owns the Mets, are facing battles. The team lost $70 million in 2011, with the promise of more losses to come as ownership's cost-cutting measures take their toll on the field.(2)