Mack Ade – Field of Dreams and Re-Financing


An investor group led by an Illinois couple has completed its purchase of the famed Field of Dreams movie site in Iowa with plans to preserve it and build an adjacent baseball training and tournament complex. The 193-acre property includes the field and farmhouse made famous in the 1989 Kevin Costner baseball classic. Go the Distance Baseball LLC, which counts baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs among its investors, closed on the Dyersville, Iowa, property last week for $3.4 million plus interest in a controversial deal that was more than two years in the making. The Star

                I don’t exactly remember, but I think this is the second time this place has been sold since the movie. Or, maybe the third. This time, hopefully, someone will build a few decent motels near the proposed facility so baseball rats like me can stay there after watch the kids play.

After a months-long process, team owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz have refinanced $450 million in loans borrowed against cable network SportsNet New York, which airs Mets games, The Post has learned. While the financial terms could not be learned, some of the proceeds are expected to go toward funding the cash-strapped team’s day-to-day operations. NYP

Bloomberg now has printed that they have taken on an additional $750mil worth of debt "to be used to replace existing credit lines and provide additional funds to the parents of the Major League Baseball team."

It always amazed me how some writers painted a refinancing as a bad thing. This is what businesses do, especially ones that owe a bunch of money. Folks, owing a bunch of money isn’t a bad thing if what you own is worth more than what you owe. The Wilpon brain trust can wave a wand and can make this all go away with a sale to new owners at any time they want. And trust me, the cost of the team and their percentage of SNY will be a hell of a lot more than they owe to everyone put together.

Someone also wrote that pushing these monies back will hurt the team “down the road”. That’s funny. They didn’t just DFA everyone from the major league through AA level. This was debt, not ballplayers.

By completing this re-financing by the end of the year means they have also avoided higher capital gains taxes on their SNY investment.

The ‘bottom line’ from all this is there will be more operating money immediately available to Sandy Alderson to get this team back to where they should be on the field. Hopefully, we can then get back to writing about strikes and balls rather than cents and dollars.

There is a lot of money owed here:

New debt:  -  $750mil...

Citi Bank – estimates are that $695mil is currently tied to the construction of the stadium

Mets - $320mil owed due in 2014.. this gets paid off with this financing.

SNY – the Wilpons owe a $450mil note due in 2015 against an investment currently worth $2bil. The Wilpons own 65% of this network, thus, a value of $1.3bil with a $450mil note. (think in terms of a $1.3bil home with a $450mil mortgage… doable)

Madoff Trustee – Up to $83mil.

(what am I missing here)?

This totals to $1,978,000, give or take a mil… but let’s remember the team and their SNY share  is worth around $3.3bil so a sale, if needed or desired, would leave the Three Amigos around $1.4bil to split.

Even Howard Megdal sounded sort of positive about this (sic):

The annual debt service will be helped dramatically by Major League Baseball's new television contract, which puts approximately $50 million in new annual revenue into every owner's pocket beginning in 2014. But it's still not clear how the Mets can meet their coming debt obligations in the next two years, having cashed out their final asset. It could be that Wilpon and his partners are just playing for a bit more time. Or, if this deal gets them something more than that, maybe they can buy themselves an outfield, too.

Everything's coming up Mets ownership! 700 million's enough to deal with outstanding loans... 

As a fan, just stay focused on the team being put on the field. All this should result is a surprise or two before the season starts.


Charles said...

I just don't see them doing this as a way of getting better ball players. Why take on an extra 200 million in debt just to bring in someone of who's left in today's FA market? If this was about getting the team better in '13, then this would have been done two months ago.

I think they're gearing up for more loosing and know that's going to put then further in the red. They are buying more time with someone else's money. They have nothing to lose here. They must be broke. That's why there's Brown and Cowgill type players being brought in, instead of a Hairston or Ross. They really just don't have the money and this was about covering future loses.

I seem articles saying they're broke and I've seen ones that try to paint them as being financially okay. Sorry, but a few pictures of Sterling's buildings and the reopening of their GCL team is not concrete evidence that they are okay. Look at how despite all the revenue they bring in to the team in NY, they are still operating as if they play in a small market.

I give them another 3 years. If the team doesn't turn around and produce a winner while still operating at a 80 mill payroll, they'll have to sell. There's no way they pay all this off.

Mack Ade said...

Charles, as I understand it, they don't owe a penny on the team... j

TP said...

You are on a roll here, once again spot on. The news media is way behind there curve here regarding the Met finances. They are a thousand times better off than 1 year ago. 2012 was a huge year for these guys - settling madoff lawsuit for pennies on the dollar. Th easale of the Dodgers and 49% of YES has appreciated their holdings 50% minimum. New MLB TV deals with millions more flowing in starting 2014. Even the fact that they bought most of those $20 million 4% shares themselves was good for them, even if they bought them because no one else would. 4% of the team is today worth $30 mil at least. Now, all they need to do is put a better product on the field to boost gate and TV revenues, and they are good to go. This is why the banks just refinanced, at lower interest rates, and extended the credit limits. Not that I like this ownership, but they have clearly weathered the storm. It time right now, this January, to start improving the product on the field, not frivilously, but wisely.

Mack Ade said...

I think there are very few people left that wish the Wilpons to remain owners of the Mets, but, it is what it is and, as long as they don't get in the way of the day to day operations, I could care.

Steinbrenner was a pain in the ass roster wise. The Wilpons are not.

Anonymous said...

Mack, you've got a good handle on the positive aspects of this transaction for the Mets. The refinancing has generated an additional $170 million in cash, to be used any way the Wilpons see fit. The problem is there isn't anyone decent around now to spend it on.

You certainly don't want to lose your first round pick by signing Bourn. Maybe it loosens the pursestrings a bit for Hairston, and a pitcher like Marcum or Saunders, and maybe two better relievers rather than one middling one. . . Hmmm,that's not so bad, come to think of it. I'm feeling more hopeful, even as I write this.

Mack Ade said...

I'm writing about this tomorrow morning at 8am -

Mack's Mets © 2012