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Mets Raising Cash, But Can They Spend It?

Investors getting into a franchise that can't turn money into wins


The New York Mets on Monday said the team was able to sell minority ownership shares to raise cash and help repay loans from Major League Baseball and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Bloomberg reported.

Owner Fred Wilpon said the team sold seven of 10 available minority ownership shares — each worth $20 million and representing 4% of the Mets franchise — “four of which went to the regional sports network owned by the team, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC) and Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA),” according to the report. Three other possible investors are being checked out.

Wilpon and co-owner Saul Katz face a nearly $400 million suit claiming the pair made hundreds of millions of dollars in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and Wilpon’s ability to bankroll the team is in question. But the Mets’ cash problems also can be traced to big spending with poor results.

The Mets haven’t been to the playoffs since 2006, and have finished fourth in the NL East with subpar records for three straight seasons. ranked the Mets the “dumbest” team in terms of spending from 2001-2010. This excerpt sums it up:

“As said before, losing expensively is the worst thing a baseball team can do. When it comes to bad spending, the Flushing Meadows boys flush money like no one else. The Mets never ranked lower than sixth in payroll over the past decade, as they’ve simply been unable to compete wisely in free agency. 40-year-old Moises Alou, the remains of Tom Glavine, and the great unknown that was Kaz Matsui are all blunders that the team has finally managed to get out from under. Now, if they can just escape Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay.”

The Mets rank No. 17 in wins and No. 3 in payroll, have logged one playoff trip during that period and posted a price/win ratio of $1,416,212. In comparison, the top team — the Minnesota Twins — ranked No. 6 in wins, No. 22 in payroll, went to the playoffs six times and spent half as much ($658,679) per win.

In 2011 alone, the Mets’ $120 million payroll ranked seventh out of MLB’s 30 teams, yet the Mets posted a 77-85 record, good for a .475 winning percentage. The only team that spent more and lost more was the Chicago Cubs, who went 71-91 (.438) despite shelling out $125.5 million. But even then, the Cubs performed much better in attendance, drawing an average of 37,258 fans per home game (at about 90% capacity) vs. the Mets’ 30,108 fans (72%).

It’s bad to spend money and lose, and it’s worse when you can’t even put people in the seats. The NL East is no picnic, sure, but the new flock of investors getting on board might not be putting their money in the best hands.

— Kyle Woodley, InvestorPlace Assistant Editor

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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