Donald Trump approached about Mets

Updated: February 17, 2011, 9:51 AM ET
ESPNNewYork.com

Who is apprentice and who is master could be a problem.

Donald Trump said Tuesday that Mets owner Fred Wilpon called him to set up a face-to-face meeting to talk about buying part of the club, The New York Times reported. But Trump said he wants to be boss.

Faced with a lawsuit seeking up to $1 billion to repay victims of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, the Mets have explored selling 20 to 25 percent of the club to fund a settlement. But Trump, like others, has expressed an interest in buying a majority share.

"The Wilpons are friends of mine, and I really hope it works out great for them," Trump said, according to the newspaper. "But if anything doesn't work out for them, I'd be interested in the team."

There's a very good reason Trump, who is from Queens, would not be interested in a minority stake, which would not allow input in day-to-day operations.

"If you look at Trump's record, he is only interested in things he can control," Trump said, referring to himself in the third person.

On Wednesday, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon reiterated that a minority stake is all the family is looking to sell.

"We're not selling controlling interest in the team," he said at the Mets spring training complex. "It's not on the table."

In a Tuesday interview with The Associated Press, Trump wasn't quite as adamant about having to have a controlling interest in the team.

"I haven't thought that far down the line," he said. "We'll see what happens."

Jeff Wilpon also said there is "good interest from a lot of people you haven't read about in the papers."

Another Queens native, Mike Repole, the maker of Vitaminwater and Smartwater, which he sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion, has also expressed interest in buying the Mets, but as a majority owner, the Times reported.

Another group is ready to make an interesting pitch for the team. A group from the investment bank and brokerage firm Tritaurian Capital plans to put together a bid for the team by selling $999 shares to Mets fans, the New York Post reported on Wednesday.

"Looking at the [Green Bay] Packers and what they have done in the past, I think there's no reason why the fans of the Mets can't accomplish something similar," said James Preissler, chairman and CEO of the start-up venture, BuytheMets.com Ltd.

Preissler and his partners would own a controlling interest under the plan, the newspaper reported.

Trump, who owned the USFL's New Jersey Generals in the mid-1980s, would likely face intense scrutiny from Major League Baseball if he did try to buy the Mets outright since he has ties to the gaming industry.

Trump's businesses, which have netted him billions, are not immune to their own financial crises, with Trump Entertainment Resorts filing for bankruptcy as recently as 2009.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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