Mets' financial records open to buyers

Mets owners Jeff and Fred Wilpon will allow

Mets owners Jeff and Fred Wilpon will allow potential buyers to examine the team's finances, which is the next step in a possible sale of up to 25 percent of the team. (Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

Candidates seeking minority ownership of the Mets have been granted permission by Major League Baseball to examine the team's financial records, according to sources familiar with the process. Names of the potential investors were not disclosed.

It is possible the financially troubled franchise, facing further uncertainty with a now $1 billion lawsuit brought by the trustee in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, will sell more than 25 percent of the team in a limited partnership, according to a source.

Reviewing the team's books is the next step in a process that is expected to result with new partial ownership in place by the end of June. Bidders were screened by Allen & Co., the firm hired by the Mets to advise and coordinate the transaction. Those on the list were subject to a financial and personal background investigation by MLB with candidates paying a nonrefundable fee of $25,000 for the right to examine the team's finances.

After reviewing the records, investors still interested will meet with principal owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz to formulate specific offers. The Mets are valued at more than $850 million, according to Forbes. Money obtained by the Mets in the partnership transaction is earmarked to pay back a $25 million loan extended by MLB and to fund operating expenses for the 2011 and 2012 season.

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