— Days Without Shea —

You may have noticed a paucity of posts the past few months on Loge13.

I could blame thishttp://www.loge13.com/assets_c/2011/03/dollar-sign-money-bag-1-thumb-225x225-13734.jpg blog brownout on personal reasons (Busy working two gigs. Coaching 5th grade basketball. Charlie Sheen watching). And to be fair, there is some blame to be assigned along these fronts.

But the truth is, my inspiration to write waned as the Wilpon woes progressed. Longtime readers know that my style (usually) is to poke fun without meanness or self-righteousness. Yet I couldn't maintain that standard during these winter months. Each morsel of news about the Wilpons and their financial woes worsened my mood. Soon my virtual trash can was full of crumpled rants against the worst owners in baseball.

It's not that I was mad at Met ownership for failing to sign better players this off-season, or that I was ticked the Wilpons were so easily allegedly duped by Bernie Madoff. What bothers me is that Mets ownership STILL continues to spin out half-truths with all the charm of a gin-soaked snake oil peddler.

The Madoff scandal had nothing to do with the Mets operation...until it did.

The Wilpons didn't need any financial help...until they put up a 25% stake in the team.

They won't give up any more than a quarter stake...until they started considering a 49% stake.

Look Fred & Jeff: I'm no pie-eyed farmboy fresh off the fields. I get that people lie, especially business people. But do you have to lie so badly? Aren't you good at anything?

My hostility was re-energized last night when I caught a bit of the "Billy Joel at Shea Stadium" show on PBS. Yes, Billy Joel sometimes makes me angry for no good reason anyway ("We didn't start the fire?" What the hell was that?). But this was different. There was BJ and guests doing a fine job serenading a goodbye to one of the best stadiums in baseball. And there was Shea Stadium, in all her majestic concrete glory, hosting her own wake.

But what were we really saying goodbye to that night? Civility towards the fans. Because when Citi Field and its ticket window opened, Met fans were told to either pay up or go home. Buy an executive suite or expect to get much much less for much much more. Some of us chose to go along, buying Promenade seats that didn't even earn us access to the lamest bar in the stadium.

And why were we saying goodbye to Shea? Because the same lame-brained owners who may or may not have been in cahoots with the worst swindler of modern capitalism decided to build a tribute to Ebbets Field and corporate extravagance, all the while shutting out the fans who had helped build the Mets franchise over it's first five decades.

And lets not dump this all on the altar of Bernie. The New York Times puts this all into stark relief today, with their article "Mets had money trouble before lawsuit was filed." Some notable quotes:

"For instance, revenue from about 10,600 club seats and suites and from advertising and concessions dedicated to paying off the Mets' new $800 million home, Citi Field, fell tens of millions of dollars short of forecasts made just two months before the season began in 2009. That was followed by a nearly 20 percent decline in attendance in 2010 and a resulting slide in revenue that was compounded by an increase in stadium bond payments...

...When the Mets built Citi Field, mostly with tax-free bonds issued by New York City, they anticipated the new ballpark would generate considerably more revenue than Shea Stadium, which the team leased from the city.

In February 2009, two months before opening day, the team estimated in a financial disclosure document that Citi Field would generate $224 million -- mainly from luxury boxes, parking, club seats and advertising -- money that would be more than enough to cover their bond payments.

Yet the recession; ticket prices as high as $500, which alienated some longtime fans; and the Mets' fourth-place finish caused revenue in 2009 to come in well short, at $180.4 million, according to audited team financial statements. The way sponsorships are booked accounted for about $7 million of the difference in revenue, but the gap was still large"

This team is losing money, badly. They can't even GIVE tickets away this season. We were all set to not re-up until the Mets dropped their prices significantly. But things still need to change. Things won't truly get better until the Wilpons sell. And the new owners better treat fans with some newly re-found respect.

So I chose to refrain from writing until my daily vitriol vanished. Yet here we are in March and I am still vexed.So best to get it all off my chest now, then move on. Nuff said on the subject. Time to focus on baseball.

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