Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, the Wilpons owe a lot of people a lot of money. Most recently (as of this morning), the Mets owners settled with Irving Picard for $162 million. This settlement amount was seen as a “big win” for the Wilpons, as the initial figure was for a billion dollars (and then eventually reduced to $385 million). Also, the three-headed monster of Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, and Saul Katz do not have to pay back that $162 million for another three years, giving them ample time to come up with the money. The good news is that the Picard settlement finally gives everyone a firm idea of how much debt the Wilpons have. The bad news, however, is that their debt exceeds $1.95 billion.
Everyone has been focusing so intently on the Picard case, that they’ve forgotten about all the other money the Wilpons owe around town. For starters, they owe Major League Baseball $25 million. Wilpons’ close friend Bud Selig was nice enough to fork over the comparatively small coin, and has continually claimed that he’s not worried about being re-payed. He’s probably the only person who feels that way.
The next loan was $40 million from Bank of America. It was classified as a “bridge loan,” needed in part to “continue operations until minority shares of the team [could] be sold.” To give credit where credit is due, owners do need to spend some money to market towards, entertain, and attract prospective buyers. And the plan paid-off, as the team found guaranteed buyers for six shares of $20 million each. Only problem is that those buyers are Jeff Wilpon, Saul Katz, and Sports Net New York (SNY)–the latter being a Wilpon-owned television company.
But again, those $25 million and $40 million loans are peanuts compared to the other debt the Wilpons have. Fred, Jeff, and Saul also have a $430 million loan on the team (due in 2014), a $450 million loan on SNY (due in 2015), and a $600 million remaining loan on Citi Field (paid in $25 million increments every six months). That’s a whole lot of dough to be paid out in such a short period of time.
There is no doubt that Picard’s settlement alleviates most of the confusion surrounding the Wilpons total debt, but it hardly explains how the long-time Mets owners will actually be able to pay it back. Lumping an additional $162 million on top of a lingering $1.8 billion doesn’t put anyone’s finances over the edge–the edge has already been well-cleared. With the team not generating any revenue (the Mets lost $70 million in 2011), and not having the proper payroll to build a contender, it hardly bodes well for a Wilpon-owned New York Mets. At least the team doesn’t owe $29 million to Bobby Bonilla over the next 24 years, right? (They do).
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