- Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork.com
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The embattled owners of the New York Mets received a loan from Major League Baseball in November in order to cover operating expenses, the team acknowledged Friday.
"We said in October that we expected to have a short-term liquidity issue," the team said in a statement. "To address this, we did receive a loan from Major League Baseball in November. Beyond that, we will not discuss the matter any further."
The New York Daily News and The New York Times pinned the amount at $25 million.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law and team president Saul Katz and various family members and entities related to Sterling Equities are facing a lawsuit seeking $1 billion. The legal action by Irving H. Picard, the trustee recovering funds for victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, alleges Mets owners knew, or should have known, about the fraud. Total losses in the Ponzi scheme are estimated at around $20 billion.
Principal owner Fred Wilpon and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon recently announced they intended to sell 20 to 25 percent of the team. However, Steve Greenberg, the man they hired to identify investors, since has stated the percentage sold could be higher. The Wilpons nonetheless adamantly maintain they intend to retain a controlling interest in the team.
Asked a week ago how he could be so confident in his ability to retain controlling ownership of the Mets given the uncertainty of the legal proceedings, Fred Wilpon insisted: "I can only tell you we have the resources in other businesses. Every one of our other businesses are going very well. And this business has to be straightened out -- no question about it."
Less than two weeks ago, Moody's Investors Service lowered its outlook on the company that operates the ballpark used by the New York Mets because of the litigation. The ratings firm cut the outlook on Queens Ballpark Co. LLC to "Negative," but maintained its "Ba1" rating on the company's bonds.
Major League Baseball reportedly has given the Mets at least $20 million to deal with shortfalls as the team faces a lawsuit.