In the statement, the Wilpons acknowledge they are part of a lawsuit brought against them by the trustee of the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy. The Wilpons had a significant amount of money invested with Madoff, and despite claims that they would be able to run the baseball team with no impact from the Madoff swindling, the evidence over the last few years has mounted that the Wilpons did, in fact, get too much of their savings wiped out. While most of their payroll is taken up by aging and/or broken-down players, the fact remains that New York has added just $7 million in payroll this offseason.
The Wilpons are considering allowing others to buy a minority stake in the Mets "to address the air of uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win."
The Wilpons made it clear that they will remain the majority partners, but that could just as easily mean a 51 percent share. However unlikely, if someone bought in for 49 percent, it would bring in what appears to be a very needed infusion of cash.
And yet, it is going to be very difficult for the Wilpons to convince an investor to fork over millions -- if not hundreds of millions -- of dollars for a share and not get any interest at all. It would be far easier for the Wilpons to sell the Mets outright, or sell the majority of the team. In fact, most compelling offers will likely attempt to buy a majority of the club.
And there will be no shortage of interested investors, given the Mets' presence in New York City.
UPDATE: Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reports that Fred Wilpon plans to sell 20-25 percent of the team.
-- Evan Brunell
UPDATE: A source tells the Times (registration required) the lawsuit is seeking as much as a billion (yes, with a B) dollars from the Wilpons, citing their conduct in the Madoff scheme and the fact that they are considered "net winners" in the deal. I don't have access to their bank statements, but I've got to think that could force them to sell the Mets entirely.
-- David Andriesen