Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Updated: February 3, 11:07 AM ET
Mark Cuban won't initiate bid for Mets
By Ian Begley
NEW YORK -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban won't be calling the New York Mets to place a bid on the minority stake of the team that was recently put up for sale.
But if the Mets want to reach out to Cuban to sell him on the merits of owning a piece of their franchise, he'd be willing to listen.
"On the Mets, I'm not gonna chase it, I'm not gonna call out [to them]. If they want to contact me, if they have an interest and they think I'd be a good owner, I'd take their call and I'd be more than happy to discuss it," Cuban said Wednesday night before the Knicks-Mavericks game. "But I'm done chasing and bidding on baseball teams."
Principal owner Fred Wilpon, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, stung by losses and litigation stemming from convicted swindler Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, announced on Friday their intention to sell 20 to 25 percent of the team to infuse cash into the organization.
Cuban, who has previously bid for ownership of the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, said that he didn't want to be used as a pawn "to drive up the price" in the bidding process for the Mets. Because of his past experiences with the Cubs and Rangers (both teams were awarded to other ownership groups), Cuban did not want to reach out to the Mets to make a bid. But he said he'd be willing to listen to someone in the organization if they wanted to talk to him about making an offer.
"If they think there's a good fit and if they think I'd be a reasonable buyer I'd be happy to [listen]. I get contacted by franchises all the time, or representatives of franchises, in all the major leagues," Cuban said. "I've just come to the conclusion that if I'm going to write a huge check, I'd rather have my ass kissed than have to chase."
Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon on Friday hired former deputy baseball commissioner Steve Greenberg, the managing director of Allen & Company, to explore "potential options including the addition of one or more strategic partners."
Any sale would be limited to a stake in the team and not SportsNet New York or Citi Field.
The Wilpons intend to maintain majority controlling interest in the Mets. Cuban was asked if his stance on bidding on the team would change if the Mets put a majority interest up for sale.
"It's all hypothetical. I don't know. I don't know enough of the details. I certainly haven't looked at their books or anything," Cuban said. "But it's a great franchise in a great market. So I'm sure there's going to be a whole lot of interest. But I'm not going to, whether it's here or the Dodgers for that matter, I'm not going to put myself in a bidding situation. I did that twice and learned my lesson."
Cuban said that, if the ideal situation presented itself, he would be interested in purchasing a franchise in any of the major sports besides football, because the NFL doesn't allow owners to own multiple teams in the same market.
Cuban, a Pittsburgh native, said he gets approached by Pittsburgh natives "100 times a day" to buy the perennially struggling Pirates.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin was used in this report.