Wilpon Sells Minority Share in Mets to Einhorn, Not Seinfeld
Thursday May 26, 2011
MLB reports: The seemingly never-ending circus that is the New York Mets took another turn today, as the team announced that it has sold a minority stake in the ball club to hedge fund manager, David Einhorn. The amount of interest sold in the team is not yet known, but the price tag on the purchase has been set at $200,000,000.00. A nice chunk of change for a team that has indicated it would be losing up to $70 million this year alone. The money according to owner Fred Wilpon would be used towards the payment of debts and expenses of the team. In essence, a short-term attempt to stop the bleeding.
The 42-year-old Einhorn is an interesting choice as a partial owner of the team. Growing up in New Jersey, Einhorn was a Mets fan and has come home so to speak. Ironically, Einhorn moved to Milwaukee as a kid and actually grew up next door to Bud Selig. With the deal apparently a commissioner rubber stamp away from approval by MLB, the connection between the new owner and the MLB commissioner should mean a quick process. Knowing Selig well should integrate Einhorn quickly into the “old boys club” so to speak as a partial owner of a major league baseball team. Knowing the city and growing up a fan of the Mets, the hope is that Einhorn can use his financial knowledge and passion for the team to build a financially viable contender.
As a limited partner, it is unclear if Einhorn will have any say or control over the team. Fred Wilpon has indicated that the investment is limited and does not include any control stake in the team. But with a team valued at approximately $747 million by Forbes, we can assume that Einhorn purchased approximately 20-25% in the Mets. If Wilpon continues to falter financially, one would assume that Einhorn would have first right to purchase an additional interest in the team. If Einhorn does become a great stakeholder in the team, the issue will become if he will do everything that it takes to make the Mets a winner, or keep a strong eye on the bottom line. Einhorn made his money by being a strong manager of money as the President of the investment firm Greenhouse Capital, Inc. The long-term implications of the sale are not yet known, but this could be a start of a bright road for the Mets depending on Einhorn’s intentions.
So what is the connection to Jerry Seinfeld you ask? Before the Einhorn announcement, Seinfeld was my choice to become the new minority owner of the Mets. With a net worth close to $800 million, Seinfeld has the money and credibility to join the sports ownership business. A life-long Mets fan, as evidenced by his hit television sitcom, Seinfeld would have become the perfect fit. A celebrity in the ranks to take the spotlight away from the troubles of the Mets and allow the fans to get excited about its ball team again. However, from all accounts that I have read, Seinfeld does not have any interest to purchase a sports team. A deeply private person by nature, Seinfeld does not want to consistently be before the press and the responsibilities that go along with becoming an owner in the Mets. Sports ownership is also not always the best financial investment and that appears to have factored into Seinfeld’s decision as well.
Finally, Fred Wilpon is a person that enjoys the spotlight and more than likely would not have enjoyed the attention being shifted away from him to the celebrity Seinfeld. However, given the scandals and turmoil that has plagued the Mets recently, having Jerry Seinfeld as a partner may have been the best cure for Wilpon. But as it stands today, it appears that the Mets have a new minority owner in David Einhorn. Hopefully the new owner brings luck and fortune to a team that desperately can use any help that it can get.
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