David Einhorn closer to stake in Mets

Updated: July 13, 2011, 3:01 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

PHOENIX -- Commissioner Bud Selig said David Einhorn has no significant obstacles remaining to becoming minority owner of the New York Mets.

"What the hell, he played baseball in my backyard. How can I turn him down?" Selig quipped, referring to Einhorn growing up in Milwaukee and playing baseball in a yard neighboring Selig's house. "... Yes, he's cleared. They have to finish the deal. And, by the way, I think they're making very good progress toward that end."

Einhorn has agreed to purchase one-third of the Mets for $200 million from principal owner Fred Wilpon and family. A source told ESPNNewYork.com that Einhorn will have the option of upping his stake to roughly 60 percent in three to five years. That option can be blocked if the Wilpons return Einhorn's $200 million and allow him to keep one-sixth ownership of the team.

The sides hoped to have a deal completed by late June. A formal completion of the sale is now expected next month.

Asked if he had concerns about the purchase in the sense that it could be viewed as a $200 million loan from Einhorn to the Wilpons in exchange for one-sixth of the team, Selig replied: "It isn't a loan in the true sense of a loan. He is putting equity in the club. That's what he's doing. I'd rather wait until that deal is done, but the beauty of it is there is equity going in the club. And, no, I'm not concerned. The deal is very good for the Mets."

Selig indicated Einhorn's investment will put the Mets on solid financial footing, despite a $1 billion-plus lawsuit still hanging over the Wilpons.

Trustee Irving Picard is suing the Wilpon family, trying to recover funds for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme. Picard seeks $300 million in alleged Ponzi-scheme profits. He also seeks more than $700 million in principal invested because he asserts the Wilpons should have recognized something untoward was occurring.

Selig made reference to a recent ruling for the Wilpons in that case, which moved the suit from bankruptcy to federal court at the request of the Wilpons' attorneys. Experts suggest that may increase the likelihood of any final judgment being limited to no more than the $300 million in alleged profits.

"I note with some interest they've had some movement in the right direction in that (legal) area," Selig said. "But I think once this (Einhorn) deal is done, I think the Mets at least for the foreseeable future will be fine."

Selig, by the way, indicated he never noticed a young Einhorn playing baseball in a neighbor's yard in Milwaukee.

"Apparently he couldn't hit," Selig added.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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