In the name of Mookie Wilson, what are the owners of Major League Baseball's New York Metropolitans thinking?
In an offer that must have David Letterman's writing staff smiling, the the New York Mets are offering 4 percent ownership stakes in their beleaguered ball club. For the past four months, the Mets have been searching high and far for 10-12 minority partners to invest $20 million each, according to the New York Times. Not surprisingly, it hasn't been smooth sailing.
Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, controlling owners of the Mets, lost a combined $70 million last season and could lose millions, if not billions, more in a trial being pushed by the trustee for Bernie Madoff's ponzi scheme victims. While the National League club waits for a financial life raft, the team picked up a $40 million bank loan to slow the bleeding for the next few months.
The Wilpons need to raise more than $200 million through this minority ownership blueprint. But so far they've been unable to find enough bigwigs to take them up on the offer. The New York Times obtained the term sheet given by the Mets owners to potential co-ownership buyers. It's a package that seems like it came out of a minor league baseball promotion handbook.
What do you get for throwing in $20 million to be part of the punchline of New York sports?
- Business card that lists you as "owner" of the Mets.
- Chance to throw out a game's first pitch each season you're a minority owner.
- Exclusive access to take batting practice at Citi Field on a Mets day off. The Times claims each minority investor will have access to an "owners workout day."
- Free parking to Citi Field. Don't get too excited, though: The club will only allow you a single reserved spot to Citi Field.
- One luxury box. That's the good news. The bad news? The team seems to be having issues leasing out the 54 suites at Citi Field, which go for $250,000 to $500,000 a year.
- Mets merchandise discounts. You'd think ownership would mean free T-shirts and jerseys, but you'd be wrong. The offer includes discounts on Mets merchandise, but you'll have to pay for it.
- Special access to Mets executives. You'll get dibs on season tickets for friends and family members. Just don't expect them to be on the house.
- Mr. Met will be your buddy. As part-owner of the Mets, you can party like a rock star with the most beloved figure in franchise history. Mr. Met will appear at birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, weddings and other social events. However, the Times says it's not clear whether these special mascot escapades will cost you extra.
- One free road trip with the team during the regular season. The Mets get to pick which city; so enjoy Pittsburgh.
- Lunch with former players. You'll be breaking bread with a host of former Mets players and current broadcasters. Don't worry, though: During the off-season, you can dine with the manager and GM.
The Mets also claimed investors could get their money back after six years with 3 percent compound annual interest included. So this investment is really a loan. The Mets had a book value of $225 million, according to Forbes, before the 2011 season.
Better act fast! Hanukkah has already started and Christmas is Sunday.
Mr. Met has been part of the Mets marketing campaign over the years, maybe minority owners can star in future commercials.
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