Following a 2010 season in which the business of Major League Baseball was booming, Forbes Magazine says the troubled New York Mets were one of only three franchises to see their value decline.
The Mets, San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians were the only three of MLB’s 30 teams to see their values decline. The Mets are still the sports fifth-most valuable franchise at $747 million, but according to Forbes that is a 13 percent drop in value from a year ago.
Forbes says the Mets are “suffocating from debt and legal issues.” They say the team, owned by Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, owes creditors $450 million.
Forbes summarizes the state of the Mets’ franchise this way:
The Mets franchise is getting hammered on two fronts. On the baseball front, the team went 79-83 in 2010, the second straight losing season, and per game attendance collapsed 17% in year two of Citi Field. The Mets are slashing ticket prices for the 2011 season hoping to regain lost supporters. On the ownership front Fred Wilpon and his partner Saul Katz are ensnarled in a legal battle with Irving Picard, the Trustee attempting to retrieve money for victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Picard is looking to recoup anywhere from $300 million to $1 billion from Sterling Equities, the holding company for the Mets. Making matters more difficult, the Mets and their 68%-owned regional sports channel, SportsNet New York, have over $1 billion of debt, including annual payments from Citi Field revenues that go towards debt service on the bonds sold to finance the stadium. The value of the team has dropped 13% to $747 million and Wilpon and Katz are looking for investors.