Good deal to be minority owner?

David Einhorn at a news conference in France.

David Einhorn at a news conference in France. (Aug. 29, 2008) (Credit: AP File, 2008)

Even for a wealthy hedge- fund manager, $200 million is serious money.

So what does David Einhorn expect to get out of his investment in the Mets, which does not include controlling interest, decision-making power or even a sliver of SportsNet New York, the lucrative television channel that is two-thirds owned by the Wilpon family?

Are there sound business reasons at work, or could it all just be for fun, a grownup toy for the kid who rooted for the Mets as a boy?

"This is just something of great personal interest," he told reporters Thursday in a conference call, adding, "I'm not really interested in owning a TV station."

At least one observer said Thursday he was surprised Einhorn didn't seek a piece of SNY -- which is worth more than the team.

"There's no chance I would buy into the Mets without SNY -- none, zero, zip -- it just wouldn't happen," Michael Cramer, former president and part owner of the Texas Rangers, told Newsday in January.

But one reason for his interest could be the name recognition that comes with ownership.

"I had never heard of Mr. Einhorn until he became interested in the Mets," said Robert Boland, professor of sports business at NYU. "You can make a billion dollars on Wall Street and nobody knows your name. You buy the Mets and suddenly you're on the back page."

There are other subtle but tangible benefits to team ownership.

Fred Wilpon himself told Sports Illustrated this week that buying the Mets in the first place was motivated in part by boosting his budding real estate business. It worked. "It opened up enormous avenues of opportunity for us," he said.

Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College, agreed, saying that even for Einhorn, there likely are real benefits to entertaining clients at a game as a minority owner of the Mets.

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