Mets Owners Get $700M Loan

Al Bello

The Wilpon family, which owns the New York Mets, has been facing a number of financial difficulties following the Bernie Madoff scandal, but a $700M loan should help ease the pressure on them.

The New York Mets off-season has been marked by a rebuilding movement that has already seen the team trade away NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey to help bolster future rosters. One of the major reasons the New York Mets have cast an eye to the future is the inability of ownership to invest heavily in the current roster.

While players like Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher and Cody Ross certainly could have moved the Mets closer to contention, budget restraints have kept New York from even considering such options. Even a two-year, $26M extension for Dickey was too risky of an investment for the unusually cash strapped Mets. However, a new financing deal could help turn things around.

Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg reports that the ownership has secured $700M in loans to refinance debt and provide additional funds to the Wilpon family, which owns the team. The Wilpon’s had been struggling with financing in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal and a court case against them concerning their involvement with the convicted embezzler’s company.

Despite their precarious situation, MLB commissioner Bud Selig did not pressure the Wilpon’s into selling the franchise as he did in the case of Frank McCourt and the Dodgers, but rather expressed confidence in their leadership. The Wilpons did end up selling a small part of their stake in the team, but retained the majority ownership.

Now, with this infusion of cash, they would appear to be on firmer financial ground. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York notes that this deal will largely help refinance the cost of the team’s Sport New York Network, but should also result in $162M of extra cash available to the owners.

While it is certainly possible that the Wilpons would look to put that money on field in 2013, recent deals like the Dickey trade and the state of the free agent market make it unlikely. The news of this loan also follows a downgrade in the rating for the debt occurred in building CitiField, possibly making future interest against that debt rise. If that is the case, Rubin's estimate of the additional funds available may be overly optimistic.

This is still good news for Mets fans, however. At the very least, investors seem to share Bud Selig’s faith in the Wilpons and they are allowing the ownership additional flexibility with this loan. Even if that does not impact the 2013 roster it still bodes well for future spending.

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