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Vote to Approve Jim Crane as New Owner of the Astros Set for Thurs PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 11 November 2011 18:32

Jim CraneJim Crane, the Houston businessman that has made several attempts at owning an MLB franchise in the past, now seems destined to do so. The vote to approve Crane as the new owner of the Houston Astros is on the agenda for the MLB owners’ meetings set next week in Milwaukee. The vote will likely come on Thursday, according to a source close to the negotiations but not allowed to speak publicly.

As part of the sale, the Astros will move to the American League as early as the 2013 season. Both MLB and the MLBPA wish to see the league balanced out at 15 teams a piece. In doing so, interleague will be played daily, and the league will see expanded playoffs with the additional Wild Card teams.

Crane was close to owning the Astros once prior in 2008, but backed out at the 11th hour. He also was a bidder for the Chicago Cubs in 2009, and was married up with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in a public auction of the Texas Rangers that saw the group headed by Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg win out in late 2010.

The vote to approve Crane was originally set for the August owners meetings in Cooperstown but was pulled off the agenda the Monday before they began over several factors surrounding activity at Crane’s global logistics companies, one of which being a class-action discrimination lawsuit and the other being fines levied by the Justice Dept over war-profiteering.

When coupled with the turmoil around the bankruptcy of the Dodgers and the associated issues surrounding Frank McCourt, owners were said to not have reached a comfort level in approving Crane in August. Since then, he has met with Commissioner Selig and league executives to reach an agreement.

The sales agreement between current owner Drayton McLane to Crane reached in May is valued at $680 million, the second highest in the history of MLB behind only the sale of the Cubs. However, when MLB began pushing to move the Astros to the AL, Crane said that he was seeking as much as $50 million in compensation for the league move due to impacts to the newly formed regional sports network the Astros have with the NBA Houston Rockets and Comcast. Whether the sale price has been adjusted due to negotiations has not yet been reported, and sources would not divulge whether that has been the case.

The date of the vote has significance in allowing the deal to go through. Crane’s exclusivity agreement with McLane expires on Nov. 30, and McLane has said that there are no other bidders on the horizon that match the $680 million offering price. With a new CBA set to be reached any day now, and the Baseball Winter Meetings beginning the first week in December, keeping the Astros in limbo has been seen as detrimental to allowing off-season player moves to occur without the sale issue resolved.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Will Jim Crane Own the Astros a Week from Today? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 10 November 2011 13:17

Jim CraneIn what may be a now or never moment for prospective Astros owner Jim Crane, exactly one week from today the potential vote to approve the $680 million sale of the club from Drayton McLane could take place. The vote was delayed in August to allow time for owners to gain a larger comfort level with Crane on several issues, some surrounding aspects around his business in the wake of the league’s dealings with the bankruptcy case surrounding Frank McCourt and the Dodgers.

But, in recent weeks, a key aspect has been negotiating compensation for moving the Astros to the American League. Crane is seeking as much as $50 million off the sale price saying that later start times for AL West games, impacts to a new regional sports network, and likely changes in how the major league roster is comprised based in competition from the Rangers and Angels factor in. The realignment is being sought by the league to allow for additional Wild Card teams to be added for the 2013 season.

Drayton McLane has been making the case to the owners that there are no other bidders that can come close to the $680 million sale price. That figure would be the second-highest for an MLB club behind only the Cubs sale, which included Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago for $835 million.

It seems highly unlikely that Commissioner Selig will call a vote if he has any trepidation about it passing the muster by at least the required 75 percent of the owners. The last time a vote was held by the owners where it prospective owner was rejected was with Miles Prentice and his attempt at purchasing the Kansas City Royals.

While the character issues may still linger, the negotiations around compensation for moving to the AL West appears to be the key point, now.

Will Crane be approved on the 17th? That seems to still be up for debate. By all accounts negotiations are still taking place. If history is any indicator, MLB sent out a press release the Monday before the Owners Meetings in August to inform that the delay to approve Crane was taking place. It seems doubtful that MLB would outright say Crane is wholly rejected. Once again, if there are concerns – what ever those are – with Crane, it will be framed as a “delay”.

The exclusive agreement between Drayton McLane and Crane for the purchase expires on Nov. 30, less than 2 weeks after the scheduled date for a possible approval would take place. By December it seems clear that one way or another, we’ll know if the 2013 season for the Astros will be piloted by Crane or McLane.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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It’s Over: Frank McCourt Agrees to Sell the Los Angeles Dodgers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 07:32

Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the
Los Angeles Dodgers

UPDATE: Additional details on how McCourt might still control certain Dodger assets after the sale

It seemed unfathomable just a few weeks ago, but in news that will reverberate through Major League Baseball and Los Angeles, Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the Dodgers, Dodgers Stadium, and surrounding parking lots. The news was first reported by the LA Times.

Both sides in the contentious legal battle need approval from a Delaware bankruptcy court where Judge Kevin Gross is preceding over the case.

But according to sources, it is possible that not all Dodger assets could be sold by McCourt. Logistically, the court controls the auction process. The key pieces – the Dodgers, Dodger Stadium, and parking lots – would be in the deal, but other land holdings and a splintered-off company created for premium tickets could be up for negotiation.

For the sale, and MLB, new owners will wish to control all revenue streams associated to the Dodgers. It will be a balancing act between how much money comes out of the auction. Creditors will need to be the first satisfied, with left over proceeds going to McCourt.

The sale would be in the form of an auction. The most recent Forbes valuation (see historical Forbes valuation numbers) which was published in 2011 but accounted for the 2010 season, shows the Dodgers to be worth $800 million.

But, that does not account for what is surely to be a lucrative television rights extension that will be granted to new ownership that will likely be worth several billion dollars. As opposed to the rejected request for an extension prior by McCourt, where Commissioner Selig said he would simply be using an extension with FOX to pay his divorce settlement of $130 million and other legal costs associated to it, Selig will grant an extension for new ownership as the revenues from the deal will go back to improving the Dodgers farm system, the stadium, and major league player payroll.

If estimates are correct, the Dodgers and, the associated assets in the stadium and land, will fetch far in excess of the $800 million valuation number by Forbes. A sale price of anywhere from $1.2=$1.5 billion is within reach through the auction process.

McCourt purchased the Dodgers for $421 million in 2004 from News Corp. It has been reported that even if the sale were in excess of $1 billion, with debt, his divorce settlement and other legal details, McCourt could profit marginally or just break even.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Report: Settlement Where Frank McCourt Sells Dodgers Could be in the Offing PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 19:18

Frank McCourtTHIS IS BREAKING NEWS....

The end could be coming, but if true, it could be a ways away. According to Bill Shaikin (via Twitter), Frank McCourt and Major League Baseball discussed a settlement by which McCourt would sell the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to Shaikin, the way the deal would be structured, “if Selig agrees to a settlement, McCourt agrees to sell. Terms might be negotiable, outcome would not be” a reference to McCourt no longer holding onto any Dodger assets. As in any negotiations, discussions of a settlement could fall apart at a moment’s notice, but if true, it's the first sign that McCourt sees his ability to retain the Dodgers slipping away.

This morning, a bankruptcy judge postponed a critical hearing that would determine whether McCourt could force an auction sale of the Dodgers media rights until Nov 29. Both MLB, FOX Sports, and representatives of season ticket holders are opposed to the proposed action by McCourt. The Dodgers counter that Selig is treating McCourt differently than others in an attempt to force him to sell the club. The league has said that McCourt would only use the proceeds from the auction to pay off debt incurred as part of his divorce from former wife Jamie, while the current Dodger owner has said that the auction will allow the Dodgers to exit bankruptcy with extra revenues with which to spend on matters such as player payroll.

Analysts have projected that the Dodgers could be worth between $1 billion to $1.5 billion at sale.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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MLB Claims McCourt “Looted” $189.16 Million from Dodgers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 13:54

Frank McCourtSetting the stage for what could be Frank McCourt’s last stand to retain the Los Angeles Dodgers next week, MLB informed Judge Kevin Gross that the owner of the club “looted” $189.16 million from the club. A statement by the Dodgers said that the “inflammatory allegations are not supported by the evidence” and that they “look forward to the opportunity to show the truth next week.”

The stakes have ramped up further as an attorney for Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was beat so severely is was left in a coma, is represented as one of the creditors in the case. His attorney, who will be representing him at the hearing that is expected to last most of next week, said that Stow’s medical bills could reach $50 million.

The US Trustee overseeing the case also added two fans that represent season-ticket holders in the case. Both the fans, as well as FOX Sports have asked Judge Gross to deny the request to auction off the Dodgers media rights, something that Commissioner Selig and the league have said is “dead on arrival.” The auction is key to allowing McCourt the ability to retain the club.

Attorneys for McCourt say that Selig is treating McCourt differently and is doing nothing more than trying to push the beleaguered owner out so that the club can be sold out from underneath him. McCourt is under pressure on multiple fronts. While his former wife Jamie has given Frank sole control of ownership, their divorce settlement stipulates that he pay $130 million by the coming Spring in exchange.

The value of the Dodgers in a sale could be as high as $1.5 billion when accounting for Dodgers Stadium, land around the stadium, the club itself, and other assets tied to the club.

RELATED CONTENT:

Analysis: Frank McCourt's Blood-Bath with Major League Baseball


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Report: Jim Crane Seeking $50M Discount to Move Astros to AL PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 11:38

Jim CraneProspective Astros owner Jim Crane is seeking a $50 million discount on the $680 million sale of the Houston Astros as compensation for moving the team to the American League, according to a report in today’s NY Post.

The want for a discount surrounds the newly created regional sports network in partnership with the Houston Rockets and Comcast that will air Rockets games in 2012 (provided new labor agreement is reached) and Astros games in 2013. Crane has said that due to the later start times in the AL West, viewership will be impacted. The league has pointed to the rivalry involving the Texas Rangers, and interest in Yankees and Red Sox games that would come from AL East games with the Astros.

The report adds that Commissioner Selig feels they are “in the ballpark” on the compensation. There are still concerns by the owners regarding past workplace issues at Crane’s companies including discrimination and war-profiteering, both of which are said to be matters of sensitivity for Selig, as well as several of the owners. A vote to approve Crane requires 75% of the owners to agree. The votes were not there in August when the last owners meetings took place, but there is momentum that vote will take place as part of the Nov. 15-16 meetings.

Even if there were a $20-$30 million reduction in the sale price, it would still rank as the second-highest all-time sale price for an MLB franchise behind only the Cubs at $845 million. That deal included Wrigley Field and a 25% stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The sale of the Texas Rangers, through a bankruptcy auction process, garnered $593 million.

Crane has now met with Selig to discuss the issues surrounding discrimination and war-profiteering, and late last week flew to meet with MLB execs around the move to the AL. While one source cited in the NY Post article believes there is a 60-70% chance of Crane’s approval, depending on the outcome of the current negotiations it seems near certain that Crane will be approved in mid-November.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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In Bold Move, MLB Files to Force Frank McCourt to Sell Dodgers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Saturday, 24 September 2011 10:16

Read the motion by MLB seeking to force
Frank McCourt to sell the Dodgers

In a move that will test the powers of sports leagues over the control of their franchises, Major League Baseball has asked the bankruptcy judge overseeing the Chapter 11 case of the Dodgers to force Frank McCourt to sell the club and the associated assets of it, which includes Dodger Stadium, land, etc (Los Angeles Dodgers LLC; Los Angeles Dodgers Holding Company LLC; LA Holdco LLC; LA Real Estate Holding Company LLC; and LA Real Estate LLC).

McCourt is seeking an auction of media rights of the Dodgers after the league rejected an extension with FOX. In their filing the league said, “[T]he sale proposed in the Media Rights Motion—the centerpiece of the Debtors’ sole reorganization strategy—is dead on arrival and cannot be completed. Accordingly, the (Dodgers) should not be permitted to continue pursuing this futile reorganization strategy, and the (Dodgers’ current ownership) should be terminated.” The league has said repeatedly that the prior request for an extension, and now the auctioning of the media rights “because doing so is not in the best interest of the Debtors, Major League Baseball or the 29 other MLB Clubs.”

Undisclosed prior, MLB agreed to not seek to remove McCourt for a limited period of time. A footnote in the filing on Page 1, reads:

“Major League Baseball previously stipulated to support a request by the Debtors for an extension of the initial period of exclusivity in these Chapter 11 Cases for 34 days, without prejudice to Major League Baseball’s right to seek, at any time, to terminate exclusivity for cause shown, so long as any motion seeking to terminate exclusivity disclosed this agreement between the parties. Major League Baseball hereby discloses its prior agreement and respectfully submits that cause exists to terminate exclusivity.”

READ THE MOTION BY MLB SEEKING TO FORCE FRANK MCCOURT TO SELL THE DODGERS

The initial television rights extension with FOX that MLB rejects had $385 million of upfront cash in the deal, but $173.5 million of it would have been diverted to pay McCourt’s legal fees as part of his divorce to his former wife, Jamie.  In terms of the proposed auction of the media rights now before the court, FOX has exclusive rights with the Dodgers. The deal expires in 2013 and no negotiations to extend those rights with FOX can begin before Nov. 30 of 2012. FOX is opposed to the auction and has said they will sue to retain the contract reached prior.

READ THE REJECTION LETTER FROM COMMISSIONER SELIG

The league cites several factors in not granting the initial extension from FOX and now the media rights auction. They cite that they wish seek “terminating the Debtors’ exclusivity because the Debtors are using these Chapter 11 Cases not to maximize the value of their estates for their stakeholders, but rather, to advance the personal interests of their principal, Mr. McCourt” adding that “he has used the Debtors’ property to secure numerous loans to fund transactions unrelated to the Dodgers’ operation as an MLB Club and to repay personal indebtedness, and he has transferred team assets from the Debtors to other companies he controls.”

The league cited the powers of leagues over their franchises, through both MLB Constitution (see the MLB Constitution) and the prior bankruptcy sale of the Phoenix Coyotes. In the case of the Coyotes, Jim Balsillie was looking to purchase the club and relocate them to Canada while the NHL wanted to keep the club in Phoenix. While Balsillie’s bid was higher, the bankruptcy judge sided with the NHL. The difference in that case and the Dodgers is that relocation is not part of the equation.

READ THE MLB CONSITITUTION

The Dodgers, through their legal team, responded by saying, “Major League Baseball’s motion is meritless.  It is another step in the Commissioner's continuing effort to cause the sale of the Dodgers notwithstanding that the Dodgers can and will be successfully reorganized as outlined in the recently filed media rights marketing motion.  In United States bankruptcy reorganization cases, liquidation is the last resort, not the first option.” The statement also added that, “MLB’s motion also ignores the fact that the Commissioner has treated the Dodgers differently from other Major League Baseball Clubs.” The Dodgers plan to file its initial response to MLB’s motion with the Court early next week.

While not speaking specifically, the statement that the Dodgers are “treated differently” may be a reference to New York Mets who have been besieged by financial woes due to ownership’s association to Bernie Madoff and the fallout from Madoff’s ponzi scheme.

But, the rejection of media rights by Major League Baseball is not new, and therefore, McCourt may lose that battle. Former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks sought a media rights extension with FOX when his holding company Hicks Sports Group was on the edge of bankruptcy. Just as is the case with the Dodgers now, the league said that granting the extension to Hicks was not in the best interest of the Rangers, or baseball and its 29 other owners, and rejected the deal. The Rangers were eventually auctioned out of bankruptcy in August of 2010.

In a separate filing, the league is seeking to disqualify McCourt’s legal counsel. That team consists of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP. The additional filing states that “Debtors’ Counsel are advancing the interests of Mr. McCourt in direct conflict with the interests of not only the Debtors, but of every other material stakeholder in these Chapter 11 Cases, including Major League Baseball and the other 29 Major League Baseball clubs (each an “MLB Club”). Disqualification is, thus, required.”

READ THE FILING SEEKING TO DISQUALIFY THE DODGERS’ LEGAL COUNSEL IN THE BANKRUPTCY CASE

The move by Major League Baseball is fraught with risk. In seeking to force the sale, and saying that any media rights deal –auction or otherwise –by McCourt is “dead on arrival”, they are putting the powers of sports leagues over franchises over the powers of the bankruptcy courts. An Oct. 12 hearing is scheduled to address the motion.

SEE OTHER MLB AND DODGER RELATED DOCUMENTS IN PDF


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Einhorn Backs Out of Minority Investment In New York Mets PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 01 September 2011 11:40

David Einhorn has backed out of deal to purchase a minority interest
in the New York Mets

David Einhorn, who was supposed to become a minority partner in the beleaguered New York Mets, back out of the deal today, according to a statement by the Mets. Einhorn had been in an exclusive negotiating agreement with the club to invest $200 million as a non-controlling interest in the Mets. The deal’s structure had the Mets paying back Einhorn in three-years. If not paid off in that amount of time, Einhorn would be able to purchase the majority controlling interest in the Mets for just $1. The exclusive window to close the deal technically died at the end of June, but the sides had been working together since. The Mets released a statement saying:

The New York Mets' Owners announced today that their period of exclusive negotiations with David Einhorn regarding a minority, non-operating interest in the Mets has expired and Ownership has decided not to extend the exclusive negotiating period any further. After months of negotiation, the parties were unable to reach agreement, and Mets Ownership has decided to explore other options.

Ownership has provided additional capital to cover all 2011 losses and is moving forward with the necessary resources to continue to operate the franchise. Ownership will explore other strategic transactions and is under no financial pressure to do a deal on any particular schedule.

"We are very confident in the team's plans - both off and on the field," said Mets Chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon. "We will engage with other individuals, some who have been previously vetted by Major League Baseball, along with other interested parties, regarding a potential minority investment into the franchise. My partners and I thank David for his interest in considering this opportunity and wish him well in the future."

Sterling Equities, which technically own the Mets, have been under siege by the trustee for the Bernie Madoff victims. The trustee, Irving Picard, was issued a win in court recently when it was found that his claim of the Mets ownership actually profiting from multiple of investments with Madoff produced a profit. Picard showed, and the court agreed, that Sterling owes $300 million.

That hit, the reports that the Mets will lose $70 million this year from issues such as attendance decline, and the aforementioned hits of Einhorn backing out and the Madoff case, will put the Mets under even more pressure. Questions as to whether the club will file for bankruptcy continue to linger.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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One Week After Delaying Vote, Will Crane Be Approved As New Astros Owner? PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 22 August 2011 14:29

Jom CraneLast week, MLB announced that as part of their quarterly owners meetings, the vote to approve the $680 million sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane was being delayed. The league cited the need for continued due-diligence on the large group of investors in Crane’s group.

"The Jim Crane group is a large group, and the commissioner called today and said for a number of reasons, they have not been able to complete all of the work, both with the financial and the investigation, and it should take no more than 10 days to two weeks to get that completed," current Astros owner Drayton McLane said last Monday. "The financing is good. I think the investigation of the individuals, they are some of the most outstanding people in Houston. I see no issue, whatsoever."

But, as of today, word is the due-diligence process continues and there is no definitive word from league sources as to whether a vote might occur this week. Could the votes simply not be there for Crane? If no vote is conducted this week, by Monday of next week, that will become the key topic of discussion as the sale process drags on.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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Court Decision Could Force Wilpon and Katz to Sell New York Mets PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 08:57

MetsA decision by a federal court in Manhattan yesterday could potentially force the current ownership of the New York Mets to sell their majority stake in the club. The unanimous ruling by a three judge panel in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that the formula that the trustee for the Bernie Madoff victims was sound, and therefore Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz will likely be on the hook for at least $300 million.

As reported by The New York Times, “the three-judge panel, said the trustee’s central formula for deciding how to recoup and redistribute the money that had moved through Madoff’s vast Ponzi scheme was appropriate” and that Picaard had determined”that investors who had taken more money out of their accounts with Madoff than they had put in had to return their ‘net winnings’.”

Picard, the trustee in the case said in a statement that he hoped the ruling by the court “can be the final word on the issue.”

While the ownership of the Mets can appeal to the Supreme Court, the chances of the case being heard, let alone won, is very thin.

The only chance for Wilpon and Katz would be to have the $300 million amount lowered. As further reported by the NY Times:

Wilpon and Katz may well argue that the $300 million figure should be reduced because they had many accounts over the years that wound up “net losers.” But even settling a portion of the claim may require the owners to sell off additional assets — from their real estate or hedge fund or cable television businesses.

A separate hearing set for Friday could well be Wilpon and Katz last stand. A hearing in Federal District Court in Manhattan in front of Judge Jed S. Rakoff will determine whether Picard’s claim for an additional $700 million should be awarded. The owners are seeking to have that case dismissed.

All this is occurring as a $200 million minority investment from David Einhorn has yet to materialize. That deal was supposed to be closed at the end of June.

The latest setback highlights one of three key owner issues facing Major League Baseball as they begin their quarterly ownership meetings today in Cooperstown. On Monday, the league said they had delayed the vote to approve the sale transfer of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane, and the Dodgers are embroiled in a heated bankruptcy case that could force current owner Frank McCourt out.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. He is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network (select his name in the dropdown provided).

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