Mets Look for New Investors Amid Madoff Mess | NBC New York

Mets Look for New Investors Amid Madoff Mess

NBC filing motion to unseal secret Mets/Madoff court records

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    Owner Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets

    The New York Mets said they are exploring the possibility of selling part of the team as their settlement talks continue amid the ongoing Madoff mess.

    Mets owner Fred Wilpon said in a statement the team was exploring options but that Sterling Equities would remain the leading owner.

    This news comes just days after NBC New York and The New York Times filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court seeking the release of all Mets-Madoff related court documents that are currently under seal.

    Read the motion here. 

    Bankruptcy Court Judge Burton Lifland has scheduled a hearing on Feb. 9 to determine whether to make all of the documents public.

    The Mets owners were investors in Madoff and are being sued by the Madoff Trustee seeking to recoup money. A spokesman for Madoff Trustee Irving Picard did not return a request for comment.

    Details of the civil complaint against the Mets remain sealed.

    It is unclear how much money the Trustee is seeking to recoup but both sides have said settlement talks are ongoing. Citing how the Mets received at least $371 million in taxpayer support to help to build the new Citi Field and how the Mets are a significant public institution, WNBC lawyers said the court documents should be made public.

    "Given the public significance of this adversary proceeding, both the pleadings and all other aspects of it should be open to public scrutiny," lawyers for NBC-New York and the Times said in their motion.

    "To the extent there is any alleged connection between [the construction of Citi Field and the Mets owners' investments with Madoff], and/or to the extent there are any allegations of financial impropriety by the teams owners, the taxpayers who have provided them substantial financial support have a right to know about it," the motion stated.

    Lawyers for the Mets have not yet filed their response to the unsealing request. The Mets announced they had hired Allen & Co. as an advisor about a possible asset sale.

    During an afternoon conference call, owner Fred Wilpon said the current owners will control a majority stake in the Mets moving forward, "The reason we are making a statement now is because of the [Trustee] lawsuit and the uncertainty that has caused." The Mets said they are considering up to 25% of the team to minority investors. Wilpon would not say if this public announcement of a possible partial sale was deliberately timed ahead of this month's planned bankruptcy hearing where detailed court records about the Mets owners and their past Madoff investments might be made public.

    Jonathan Dienst is chief investigative reporter for WNBC