— Days Without Shea —

Filed under: Baseball | CitiField | Mets
by Kingman on April 21 at 11:39AM
The NY Post writes today that a 4th bidder for the Mets may be emerging.

Former commodity trader Ray Bartoszek, teamed with private investor Anthony Lanza, whose late father founded L-3 Communications and grew it into a $15 billion New York City defense company, have met with the Mets' owners in the last few days, according to two sources.

Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz since last fall have been seeking a minority partner to inject $200 million in badly-needed operating cash into the team. Recently just three groups were believed to be in the final mix.

The addition of a fourth group is good news for the team's owners, who appear to be on pace this year to lose roughly $60 million compared to $50 million last year.

The three existing bidders are: hedge fund honcho Steve Cohen; a bidding group of Steve Starker and Ken Dichter; and a group consisting of Anthony Scaramucci and 1-800-Flowers.com founder James McCann.

Bartoszek was a managing director at Glencore International, which is reportedly is planning a $10 billion initial public offering.

Meanwhile, Bill Madden of the NY Daily News has an interesting item about MLB's takeover of the Dodgers, speculating if the Mets could be next.

The big issue, of course, is just how does Selig's action with the financially distressed Dodgers affect the likewise financially distressed Mets? The answer to that undoubtedly lies in the Mets owners' efforts to find an investor to pump some $200 million into the operation, which presumably will enable them to refinance and start paying down the estimated $300 million team debt, make their stadium bond payments and cover all their operating costs, most notably payroll.

Selig's action with the Dodgers was precipitated by a $30 million personal loan Dodger owner Frank McCourt arranged with Fox, the team's television partner, last week, purportedly to make payroll. In order to secure the loan, McCourt had to use as collateral the settlement he got in an unrelated lawsuit in Boston, after Selig denied his request to use the team as collateral for a $200 million loan from Fox.

Wednesday night, McCourt enlisted Sullivan & Cromwell, a longstanding, prominent New York law firm, to sue MLB and Selig. A veteran sports attorney speculated that McCourt will base his case on the fact that he never asked MLB for a loan, unlike Mets owner Fred WilponTexas Rangers owner Tom Hicks. MLB did not move to take over the Mets or Rangers when they came into similar financial distress. and former

Not surprisingly, McCourt's estranged wife, Jamie, checked in with a statement, saying she "welcomed and supported the commissioner's actions to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction" for the Dodgers.

Because of the Mets' massive team debt (much of it believed to be accrued from their buyout of Nelson Doubleday's 50% of the team in August of 2002 for $135million), the club's owners have also had payroll issues - as recently as last November they received a $25million loan from MLB to cover operating expenses. Before that, they were able to tap into their accounts with convicted Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff. But, as has been well-documented, those accounts are all gone now.

No one - except the Mets owners themselves - knows how close they are to being in the same precarious situation as McCourt. At least they are able to sell a substantial part of the team to secure the necessary capital to continue operating the Mets while they fight the $1 billion lawsuit leveled against them by Madoff trustee Irving Picard. With the ownership of the Dodgers entangled in the divorce case, McCourt can't even do that - which presumably is what makes the Dodgers' situation more imminently critical for Selig.

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