Mets hire firm that bankrupt Rangers used

Owner Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets

Owner Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets addresses the media during spring training at Tradition Field. (Feb. 17, 2011) (Credit: Getty Images)

The Mets have hired CRG Partners, a bankruptcy and financial turnaround consulting firm, but the team maintains that the debt-ridden franchise is not seeking bankruptcy protection.

"CRG's services are not bankruptcy-related, nor are any such services being provided by any other party," a Mets spokesman said.

The Mets released an earlier statement detailing CRG's role.

"Mets Limited Partnership engaged CRG Partners to provide services in connection with financial reporting and budgeting processes," the team said.

Manhattan-based CRG handled the 2010 bankruptcy of the Texas Rangers. A person familiar with the Mets' process said the team's situation is "different from the Rangers; the Rangers were in bankruptcy."

CRG declined to discuss its role with the Mets, referring questions back to the team.

A person familiar with the situation said Major League Baseball does not view the Mets' hiring of CRG as a prelude to the team declaring bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy expert Thomas J. Salerno of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, which handled the 2009 proceedings for the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes, said: "A firm like CRG, which is a financial advisory firm for the distressed entity, sees if there are ways to cut expenses down, ways to increase revenues, ways to negotiate with creditors to get extensions and get some relief on interest rates. Things of that nature, with the eye toward avoiding a formal bankruptcy proceeding if at all possible.

"Everyone has been looking at the reports of the sort of financial pressures that the Mets are under, and [bankruptcy] certainly is a possibility, but I don't think the retention of CRG says it's a done deal. I'm sure they are looking at all their options because they have to. That's just prudent business planning."

In December, the Mets confirmed receiving a $40-million bridge loan, which a source said Bank of America extended, to help meet expenses while the team tries to raise $200 million through the sale of units priced at $20 million each. The team has maintained that it expects those deals to be completed sometime this month. A person familiar with the Mets' process said CRG is not involved in the unit sales.

General manager Sandy Alderson has said the team lost $70 million for the 2011 season. The team also owes MLB $25 million for a loan issued in November 2010. Ownership also is facing a lawsuit for $386 million from the trustee for the victims in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme. Barring an out-of-court settlement, that trial is set for March 19.

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