The partial sale of the Mets is on track, and the team expects to select one of four remaining bidders next month, with the deal closing in June, a person familiar with the process said Tuesday.
The Mets are seeking $200 million for a minority share of the ballclub, which has been valued at $747 million by Forbes magazine. The publication listed the team's debt at $450 million. The team also is contending with a $1-billion suit brought against Mets chief executive Fred Wilpon and co-owner Saul Katz by the trustee in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, though none of the proceeds from the partial sale are expected to go toward any settlement in that matter.
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There is no front-runner among the bidders, who have not been identified, the person said, adding, "It's too close to call."
The candidates are "very well qualified" with respect to their finances and backgrounds, and the final choice should be swiftly approved by Major League Baseball, the source said.
There are "four really well-qualified bidders who seem to be all equally interested," the source said.
The source would not reveal the percentage of the team being sold but said the "strong expectation" is that Wilpon would continue to remain in control.
The Mets said in a statement: "We continue to have conversations with a number of interested parties. Since these conversations are confidential, we will neither confirm nor deny the identity of any of the possible partners nor the details of any potential deal."
The new investors' capital would be used for operating expenses and to pay down debt, which includes a $25-million loan from Major League Baseball.
The source said that the Mets do not have any short-term concerns with payroll or operating expenses.
Major League Baseball did not respond to a request for a comment.