MLK III: Mets Ownership Speculation ‘Premature’
NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Martin Luther King III has a “vision of a more diverse ownership group,” although he insists his reported interest in purchasing a share of the New York Mets is “premature.”
The New York Post reported Sunday that King was part of a bid that includes former Mets first baseman Ed Kranepool, Donn Clendenon Jr. and television executive Larry Meli. Clendenon’s father was MVP of the Mets’ 1969 World Series victory.
The paper quotes Meli saying the group wants to purchase 50 percent of the team and that it would be “fitting with the legacy of Jackie Robinson essentially transferring to the Mets.”
In a statement released to The Associated Press, King said there had been much discussion about his participation in the acquisition of the Mets. He said it was premature to make those discussions public, but said in the statement that he valued diversity among owners in pro sports.
“I believe in the merit and American value of creating an example, and, if I personally, or as part of a collective, can advance the vision of a more diverse ownership group in professional sports, domestically or internationally, then, like my father, I am prepared to act in that spirit,” he said.
King added, “There has been a lot of discussion and speculation about my participation in the acquisition of the New York Mets. The public release of those discussions was premature.”
Meli said that King, who runs the King Center in Atlanta, is coming to New York this week to meet with Mets owner Fred Wilpon and his son, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.
Long Island businessman Martin Silver also said he wanted to meet with the Wilpons to discuss buying a piece of the franchise.
Silver, who owns the Georgi vodka brand, said he wants Mets fans to “believe again.”
“We don’t want the Yankees to get all the publicity with all the millions and millions of dollars they’re spending,” he said.
The Mets are apparently under pressure as a result of a lawsuit from the trustee trying to reclaim money for victims of the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. On Friday, Owner Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff, announced they were exploring a partial sale of the team that would raise several hundred million dollars.
Fred Wilpon said the Mets were looking to sell a non-controlling interest of 20 to 25 percent and he did not envision giving up control of the franchise, which his family first bought into in 1980.
Court-appointed trustee Irving Picard said the Mets made nearly $48 million in Madoff’s scheme. He said the Mets Limited Partnership originally invested about $523 million, but eventually withdrew about $571 million from the accounts.
In December, Picard sued dozens of entities affiliated with the Wilpons, the family real estate company Sterling Equities and Saul Katz, Fred Wilpon’s brother-in-law and partner in the Mets and Sterling. The lawsuit in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan is under seal, and it’s not clear what the Wilpons’ potential liability is.
“Because of that uncertainty, it is prudent in my view and reasonable and appropriate for us to explore our options,” Fred Wilpon said during a conference call. “It is the right thing to do from a business perspective.”
Will the Wilpons eventually sell a piece of their stake in the Mets? Sound off in the comments below…