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Clues to Wilpons’ Finances May Be Found in MLS

By Howard Megdal ~ July 16th, 2010. Filed under: Howard Megdal, New York Mets.

When I headed to Harrison, NJ to cover the signing of Thierry Henry by the New York Red Bulls, I assumed I was taking a break from New York Mets reporting. But MLS Commissioner Don Garber name-dropped the Wilpons and a possible second New York MLS team during his press availability, and stressed how much he wanted the Wilpons as owners in his league.

This represents nothing less than an opportunity for Mets fans to find out just how solvent the Wilpons really are.

Mike and I discussed this on the air last week- I made the point that really, it would be impossible to know what was going on with the Mets financially until after the fact. If the team continued its healthy spending, worries were over nothing. If the team dramatically curbs spending, it is at least possible it happened because of a change in financial circumstances.

But that MLS is so eager for the Wilpons to join the league is reassuring by itself. Keep in mind: MLS has built its league very carefully. And the major building blocks, financially, are the owners. Markets are picked, first and foremost, based upon ownership groups, rather than location. There’s a reason there isn’t an MLS team in South Florida, in San Diego, and it has nothing to do with location: there haven’t been compelling ownership groups put together.

Now, it could be that when MLS gets closer, they would see something that would make them reconsider the Wilpons. But it is hard to imagine Garber would have made such noises at a presser if he didn’t have at least some sense that the Wilpons are just as solvent as they say they are, rather than as the New York Post says they are.

And if the Wilpons are awarded a team, it is about the closest Mets fans will get to a full audit of the Wilpons. The all-clear sign for Mets fans, at least financially, may soon be at hand.

One word of warning: it may be impossible for the Wilpons, even after building the spectacular Citi Field, to come up with a soccer arena the equal of Red Bull Arena. But it sure would be fun to see them try.

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Howard Megdal is the Editor-in-Chief of The Perpetual Post. He covers baseball, basketball and soccer for Capital New York, MLBTradeRumors.com, New York Baseball Digest and has written for ESPN.com as well as numerous other publications. He is the Poet Laureate for SBNation New York. His book about Jewish baseball players, “The Baseball Talmud,” is available for purchase on Amazon.com and wherever books are sold. His next book, "Taking The Field", is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will publish in May 2011.

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7 Responses to Clues to Wilpons’ Finances May Be Found in MLS

  1. US Fan

    Howard, just so that you are aware… this is no new news. Wilpon’s interest to buying an MLS team was known from about 2-3 years ago. He put a hold on the plans due to the recession, but his interest re-surfaced again now.
    And initially it was Wilpon who contacted Garber firs, not the other way around.

  2. Stu B

    The UFL NY Sentinels played home football games at Citi Field last year; perhaps it also can be used for soccer. Makes a lot more sense than building another facility for a marginal sport…

  3. Howard Megdal

    US Fan, I know it isn’t new, but that Garber went out of his way to tout them as possible owners, in light of the NY Post article, suggests to me he’s in a position to know more about their finances.
    And Garber specifically brought them up, unprompted, at yesterday’s news conference. That is interesting, I thought.
    Stu B, that marginal sport draws about the same at Red Bull Arena as the Knicks do for their home games at MSG. And that was before Thierry Henry.

  4. Stu B

    OK, but usiing Citi Field or another existing venue (Giants/Jets Stadium?) still makes more sense than building another new one…

  5. DC Fez

    MLS requires all it’s teams to have their own facilities which they control. It’s the reason the league has been successful. No league can exist soley renting and a soccer atmosphere requires a soccer specific stadium

  6. Super Rookie

    Nice little article here.

    It puts it all in perspective when thinking of multi-sports team owners.

    That being said, Stu B, might be surprised to see that MLS average attendance is around 18,000 a game, which is above NHL average and just below NBA. Granted, they play less home games, that isn’t anything to shake a stick at.

    It is really just something for people to accept.

  7. Steve

    Well, as an Isles fan, Garber may have been mentioning Wilpon because there was a rumor a month ago about the Mets hiring a real estate firm to assess the feasibilitiy of an Islanders arena in Queens.


    This suggests that Wilpons are OK with the finances. However, according to NY post article


    Garber said, “I continue to have discussions with the Wilpon family of the New York Mets about seeing whether we could convince them that soccer would be better in Queens than hockey. We have work to do with the city to get their support for building a stadium.

    “I think if we’re able to really make a lot of noise here, get lots of people to come out, have this team resonate throughout the tri-state area, it will be that much easier to convince everybody we need to convince about that second team.”

    Sure hasn’t convinced the WIlpons that soccer is better than hockey.

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