Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, the fiscally troubled majority owners of the Mets, need to line up about ten or so people to become minority owners of the ball club, at $20 million each, or about 4 percent. Now, while Wilpon and Katz have plenty of experience being swindled into a bad investment, they don’t seem to have as much expertise when they’re the ones attempting the swindling. Instead of trying to convince potential owners that this is a good deal, their every action screams, “We can’t believe you’re actually thinking about this! Whoa! Please? We’re sooooo desperate.” Sending out those vibes, in nearly every situation in life, is a terrible idea.
To wit, the New York Times obtained a document that spells out the perks the Mets are offering to minority owners. Freebies sometimes do help tip someone into a financial decision; WNYC probably wouldn’t be as well funded if 23-year-old dudes with beards and cuffed jeans didn’t think they’d be able to impress pretty girls at the Grand Army Plaza farmer’s market with that font-centric tote bag. But $20 million is a different story: Do you throw out that kind of money in service of perks that might impress someone you’re trying to pick up? For instance, the Mets are offering “a formal business card, complete with the prominent designation: “owner.” If you’re a minority owner, you’re not going to be doing much actual networking or deal-cutting on behalf of the team. That card is for bars. Maybe high-school reunions.
The owners are also upsettingly willing to sacrifice Mr. Met’s hard-won privacy, dignity, and time, poor guy. (At least they’ve priced it expensively though.) For those who pony up the $20 million, they’re offering up “access” to him — although it’s unclear if you get said access offsite, like at a party, or if you just get to skip the line to pose in a picture with him at the stadium. Priceless, really. Another thing potential owners get to do is take batting practice at the field on the Mets days off, which probably IS a selling point to the kind of person for whom baseball fantasies figure prominently enough that he’s willing to drop $20 million on a symbolic piece of a pie.
But it’s not just that the inducements don’t seem super-swag; it’s that some of them seem to be advertisements of the team’s financial troubles. The team’s offering each owner a luxury box, which seems pretty cool until you stop to realize that means that they probably can’t lease all of them for money, and ten out of 54 total is a pretty large percentage to give away for free. Season tickets for your family don’t come with the $20 million package, either —you get preferred access to them, but you have to pay for them. Fine, but can we get some bobbleheads? Free caps? No one walks into a baseball stadium and comes away without some kind of free gear sponsored by a credit-card company. Surely the Mets at least are giving, like, signed baseball bats to their new owners. Nope: Merch isn’t free for owners, though you do get a little discount.