Madoff lawsuit –
The recent news that the trustee in charge of dissolving the Madoff estate is seeking to recover upwards of $300 million dollars from Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, among others  , could bring the Wilpons’ disappointing tenure as owners of the New York Mets to an end. The complaint alleges that Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz, their families and friends, and Sterling Equities-related entities withdrew more than $300 million dollars from their Madoff investment accounts over the course of two decades. The complaint then alleges that the Wilpons used the withdrawn money to fund their Sterling Equities-related businesses such as funding the day to day activities with the New York Mets organization, using their Madoff accounts as collateral to obtain credit lines for their real estate companies, hedge funds and other Sterling Equities-related businesses.
The complaint further alleges that the Wilpons were warned multiple times that something fishy was going on with Madoff’s investment funds during their relationship with Madoff. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the Wilpons and Sterling Equities partners were warned by counsel, financial industry experts and trusted advisors that Madoff’s investment funds were fraudulent. Despite these red flags, the Complaint alleges that the Wilpons and partners at Sterling Equities turned a blind eye and continued to invest with Madoff.
Current state of the Mets –
On the field, the New York Mets are in dire need of new blood. The team’s current key players and veterans are all unlikely to return next season. Johan Santana is out for the start of the 2011 season recovering from shoulder surgery. Jose Reyes in the final year of his contract and is going to seek a multi-year deal in the range of $10 million+ per year. Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez are likely entering their final seasons as a Met. In addition, Met fans cannot be excited going into the 2011 season with a bunch of hopefuls in Chris Young, Chris Capuano, Taylor Buchholz, and D.J. Carassco. Let’s not forget that Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez are still on the team’s 2011 roster. With a farm system short of major-league ready talent, the team has no choice but to start rebuilding through the draft as well as acquiring prospects through trades.
With the Phillies looking like the NL East Champs for the next few years led by their four horsemen in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels and stiff competition for the wild card from the Rockies, Reds, Braves, and Giants, who are all loaded with young talent, the Mets are going to need to make major changes before they even have a shot at competing for the wild card.
Even before the Madoff scandal broke out, the relationship between Met ownership and the fans were already on thin ice. Remember when Omar Minaya somehow held onto his job despite back to back late season collapses in 2007 and 2008? What about the whole Tony Bernazard episode? Add that to the lack of transparency with the fan base and you have a team in desperate need of new ownership. If the ice has not been broken after the recent Madoff debacle, it sure is getting thinner.
With the Madoff lawsuit likely to drag on for a while and into the start of the 2011 Mets season, it might be best for the Wilpons to sell the entire team rather than a small stake. An investor who would be willing to invest $200-300 million dollars for a non-controlling minority stake with the Mets would be better off taking that money and playing craps in Atlantic City. The Madoff lawsuit, combined with the current state of the New York Mets organization, may finally put an end to the Wilpons’ disappointing tenure as owners of the New York Mets. For Met fans, this Madoff scandal may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise if the Wilpons are forced to sell the entire team.
 The Complaint also seeks to recover money from other Sterling Equities partners, their family members, related trusts and Sterling Equities-related entities. Sterling Equities is a family-run business empire headed by Fred Wilpon.