It just hasn’t been a good year for the Mets.
Three months after the Mets agreed to sell a minority stake of the team to David Einhorn, the deal has fallen through, and the team said it’s ready to explore other options.
The hedge fund owner was expected to inject $200 million into the cash-strapped franchise.
The team released a statement saying the period of negotiations with Einhorn has expired, and the franchise decided not to extend the negotiating period any further.
Ownership, led by Fred Wilpon, will explore other options, but the team isn’t under financial pressure to get a deal done under any particular schedule, the Mets said.
“We are very confident in the team’s plans – both off and on the field,” said Mets Chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon. “We will engage with other individuals…regarding a potential minority investment into the franchise. My partners and I thank David for his interest in considering this opportunity and wish him well in the future.”
Back in May, Mets ownership said a deal with Einhorn “improves the franchises financial position.” They cited his integrity, intelligence and success as president of Greenlight Capital Inc, as reasons why they decided to partner up with the investor.
On Jan. 28 the Mets announced that they were interested in selling about 20-25 percent of the team, to help off-set the cost of the lawsuit filed by the trustee, Irving Picard, for the victims of Bernard Madoff.
The lawsuit, which could cost the current owners almost $1 billion, alleges that the Mets’ parent company, Sterling Equities, along with Saul Katz, Jeff Wilpon’s uncle, and his father and owner Fred Wilpon, should have known better than to take Madoff’s investment assurances at face value.
The team is now moving on and will engage in talks with previous individuals already vetted by Major League Baseball.
After the deal was announced in May, Einhorn visited Citi Field and was seen wearing a blue Mets cap. The investor grew up in New Jersey and used to root for the Mets, Einhorn said at the time.
“The extensive nature of changes that were proposed to me at the last minute has made a successful transaction impossible,” he said in a statement.
Einhorn is the author of the book “Fooling Some of the People All of the Time,” and has given speeches about financial and economic issues.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated three months ago, Wilpon, 74, said the Mets “are bleeding cash,” and that the team could lose as much as $70 million this year.
Wilpon said cash from a minority sale would be used to pay off a $25 million loan from Major League Baseball, which the team received last November.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Wilpon told SI’s Tom Verducci about his dealings with Madoff. “It felt like a dagger—you know one of those serrated daggers, when you pull it out, you pull your guts out a little bit? I totally trusted this man.”