Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Picard Case Unlikely To Cost Wilpons The Mets

What would be the best case scenario for Mets fans when it comes to the future of the team? Many, if not most, would argue that the most favorable scenario involves a MLB takeover of the New York Mets, much like the one witness last season in Los Angeles. That takeover would usher in a new ownership group while simultaneously showing Fred Wilpon the door. That scenario...doesn't appear to be coming any time soon.

What took place in US District Court on Monday shouldn't have come to a surprise to anyone. By most accounts going into the day, there was little chance that Judge Radkoff was going to simply dismiss the suit. Furthermore, with all the outrageous numbers being thrown around in this case (as much as $1 billion dollars), it was logical to think the Wilpons were going to lose some money.

Up to and additional $83 million dollars appears destined to be added to the mound of debt Fred Wilpon has accumulated. Bad news for him, sure, but not nearly as damning as the news levied shortly after by Judge Radkoff. You see he went on the record saying that "the court is skeptical" about Picard's chances of convincing a jury that the Wilpons knowingly looked the other way in the Madoff ponzi scheme. Is that a guarantee that a jury won't hand down an additional financial penalty, no. However, one doesn't become a US District Judge without having a fairly good grasp on their job.

At this point, at least in my opinion, Fred Wilpon's back might buckle under the weight of the additional $303 million in damages that could result from the trial. Unfortunately, I'm forced to take the judge's word that such a payout is unlikely. Therefore, while the Wilpons will be forced to endure additional debt, it stands to reason that it won't be the crushing blow many had hoped.

If there is not earth shattering payout, the additional cash through minority sales, combined with a drastically reduced payroll could net the Wilpons close to $200 million in additional capital for this season. That may allow them to limp long enough to be able to refinance their debts for SNY, Citi Field and much much more. Once that occurs, Mets fans may find themselves locked into the Wilpons for a long time, just as they said they'd be just weeks ago.

Yes, the Picard lawsuit may soon come to an end, but if that end does not bring with a large judgement against the Wilpons, Mets fans may only be facing the beginning of the struggle for him to right himself financially. Does that mean more middle of the road payrolls? Does it mean more mediocre talent? Only one thing appears certain at this point, Fred Wilpon is not going without a fight and it may be total financial ruin and that illusive MLB takeover to would finally see the Mets turned over to new ownership.


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