Madoff woes may keep Mets fans away
The Bernie Madoff stench surrounding the New York Mets may keep fans away from Citi Field this season, one Wall Street firm said Thrusday.
Moody’s Investors Service said the Madoff trustee’s efforts to recover as much as $1 billion from Mets owner Sterling Equities could "negatively impact the quality and performance" of the Major League Baseball team. If that happens, attendance to games could suffer, the ratings agency said.
On the risk of less ticket revenue flowing to the team, Moody’s lowered to negative its outlook on the $695 million in municipal bonds floated by New York City and used by Fred Wilpon’s Sterling to build Citi Field, the shiny new ballpark that opened in 2009.
Moody’s maintained its overall rating on the bonds, which were lowered to junk last year, but slashed its outlook on the bonds as a result of the lawsuit and the financial uncertainty it creates.
The report is expected to put added pressure on the owners to take action to shore up their finances, experts say. That could mean forcing Wilpon, his son Jeff and business partner Saul Katz, to sell a majority stake in the club — or even the entire team.
The explosive lawsuit, unsealed last week, alleges that the Mets’ owners — through companies, including Sterling Equities — ignored warnings about Madoff’s fraud, earning them $300 million in ill-gotten gains over the years.