The New York Times revealed the existence of a $25 million loan from MLB to the Mets last November. Under pressure from a $1 billion lawsuit by the trustee for the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme, the Wilpons reached out to their old friend, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, for a line of funding to keep the Mets operating for a short time.
The loan was so secret that Selig didn’t even tell the other owners that he was providing a bailout to the team one of the highest payrolls in the league and one of the priciest front offices as well. Selig finally told baseball’s executive committee in January about the existence of the loan. A Times reporter asked Fred Wilpon yesterday if he received financial assistance from MLB. Wilpon said he didn’t want to talk about team finances and dashed away quickly. When Wilpon was told that the Times found out about the secret loan, the team issued a brief statement to the media:
We said in October that we expected to have a short-term liquidity issue. To address this, we did receive a loan from Major League Baseball in November. Beyond that, we will not discuss the matter any further.
Last year MLB provided about $40 million in assistance to the Texas Rangers. That was because the owner and team were in bankruptcy. The loan that the Mets received isn’t far off in dollar value and is very telling about the state of the Mets finances compared to where the Rangers were last year.
The issue that concerns me is that the Wilpons haven’t been forthright, whatsoever, with the fans and the media about the real situation. Last year the Wilpons said the lawsuit didn’t have any financial impact on the operations of the Mets. It has. Last month the Wilpons admitted that they’re trying to find a minority investor in the team but there was no issue with operations. Last week the Wilpons arrived in Port St. Lucie and reiterated that the Mets had no financing problems.
The owners haven’t been forthcoming with the fans about the real situation with the team’s finances. Going forward, we have to take everything they reveal about the finances with a grain of salt. They’re being careful not to lie about it, but they’re certainly not talking about the true nature of the problem that this caused for the team.