On Friday Mets majority owners the Wilpon’s and co-owner, as well as team President Saul Katz have settled with Irvin Picard, the trustee representing Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme victims.
Arguing that the Wipon’s and Katz knew they were gaining financially from Madofff’s scheme, Picard at one point was looking for upwards of $1 billion dollars from them in order to pay back the victims they gained from.
The amount that Picard wanted to recoup was later reduced to $300 million and since 2010 the case has hamstrung the finances of the Mets team, and almost forced the team to be sold because the pending case did not allow for the owners to move money around from other investments, such as the SNY network which covers the Mets and real estate, to the team. During that time the Mets had to get two loans, one from MLB for $25 million and another from Bank of America for $40 million to keep the team and cover operating costs.
But now the financial burden seems to be lifted as on Monday morning in court as the case was to begin it was announced that Fred Wilpon and Katz had settled with Picard and the victims for $162 million, which won’t have to be paid for another 3 years, all in all a victory for the teams owners.
“That decision removed the defendants from the sword of Damocles hanging over their lives,” Mario M. Cuomo, the former New York governor who was appointed as the mediator in the case in early 2011, said outside the courtroom. “And it will enable them to return to their work, their family and normalcy.”
“It could have been much worse for the Mets,” says Patrick Rishe, who writes about sports business for Forbes magazine. “The three-year waiting period might give them time to find enough majority investors to comfortably hang on to the club, and it’s not likely they would have settled for such a large sum if it created conditions that forced them to sell the team.”
“Now I guess I can smile, maybe I can take a day off, but I can’t wait to get back to our businesses, which I love,” Wilpon said outside the court house.