Reporting John Montone
NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Major League Baseball “will not make another major loan” to the cash-strapped owners of the Mets, according to the New York Times.
That’s not good news for a team reportedly trying to secure a second loan to offset operating expenses.
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Citing two unidentified people briefed on the club’s finances, The Times reported on its website Tuesday night that the Mets can’t count on receiving any more money from the commissioner’s office to help cover expenses.
“Baseball’s decision to restrict the Mets’ access to further emergency funds could leave the team’s beleaguered owners … without their best remaining source of cash as they struggle to maintain control of the team,” the paper reported.
When contacted by The Associated Press, a Mets official declined to comment. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney also had no comment.
The New York Post reported on Monday that the Mets are “desperately” seeking a new loan to cover basic operating costs.
“JPMorgan Chase … is trying to recruit other institutions to join a syndicate to put together a new loan that would tide the Mets over until they sell a minority stake in the ballclub,” reported the Post. “A well-placed source said both the Mets and Major League Baseball are exerting strong pressure on JPMorgan to make that loan happen.”
The new loan could add up to “tens of millions of dollars,” according to the paper.
Hounded by a multimillion dollar lawsuit filed by the trustee trying to recover money for victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, the Mets acknowledged Friday that they received a loan from MLB in November to help meet their financial obligations.
The New York Times and Daily News reported that the loan amount was $25 million.
According to The Times’ report Tuesday, the two people briefed on the situation said MLB could possibly reassess its stance in the near future if it thought it had to protect more important interests — such as preventing a Mets fire sale.
Also, the people suggested that baseball could make a smaller, short-term loan to help the Mets avoid defaulting on particular payments such as player salaries, but it wouldn’t be hefty enough to save the team’s owners long term, the newspaper said.
The trustee, Irving H. Picard, sued Mets owner Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law and team president Saul Katz and various family members and entities related to Sterling Equities in December, seeking at least $300 million.
Picard claimed the Mets profited with their Madoff investments and ignored warnings that his high returns might be false. Losses in the Ponzi scheme are estimated at around $20 billion.
The Wilpons have said they are victims in the scheme.
The Mets announced in January they were looking to sell a non-controlling interest in the team of 20 to 25 percent to raise several hundred million dollars. Wilpon insisted his family would remain in control of the team.
Less than three weeks ago, Moody’s Investors Service lowered its outlook on the company that operates the ballpark used by the Mets because of the litigation. The ratings firm cut the outlook on Queens Ballpark Co. LLC to “Negative,” but maintained its “Ba1″ rating on the company’s bonds.
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