It was an Amazin’ offer right out of left field.
Donald Trump is offering to buy the financially ravaged Mets if team owner Fred Wilpon’s hand is forced by a $1 billion lawsuit stemming from the Bernie Madoff scheme.
“Fred is a friend of mine,” said Trump, 64. “I hope it works out for him. If it doesn’t, I certainly would be interested,” adding that he’s only wants a majority share. Mets owners have said they only want to sell up 25 percent, but they may have to unload more if things turn for the worst.
But Trump’s stake in three Atlantic City casinos may keep him out of the owners’ box, as the MLB prohibits heads of teams from owning or operating casinos.
The wily real estate mogul could circumvent the rule by handing off ownership of the casinos and not being directly involved. (He’s already found a buyer for the bankrupt Trump Marina, but that’s unrelated to his Mets aspirations.)
“The greatest fear that every sports league always has is anybody who’s involved in the betting industry,” said NYU sports management professor Robert Boland, adding that the Mets may be desperate enough to cope with Trump’s gambling biz.
Sports business analyst Maury Brown of bizofbaseball.com agreed, but said Trump’s desire for a majority stake could get messy.
“Trump would certainly add some flavor to the ownership ranks, but I can’t see him sitting idly by in the background,” he said. Wilpons have been very adamant that they’re not interested in selling a majority stake.”
He added: “I think [the Wilpons] view the team as kind of a family heirloom, as something they’re proud of owning.”
And if Trump were to become a majority owner, some wonder if the fiery “Apprentice” host can even run a successful club.
“They need [an] owner who cares primarily about bringing championships to town,” said Adam Garnett of Mets blog risingapple.com “And I can't see Trump … being that guy.”
Some fans, though, are dying for a management change for the perennially troubled team.
“Somebody better buy that team,” said Virginia Galvin, both a baseball and Trump fan, from Peter Cooper Village. “It’s going down the sewer!”
The Mets and the MLB declined to comment.
(with Sheila Anne Feeney and Newsday)