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Citi Field bond-rating oulook negative

Citi Field

Citi Field Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bond-rating agencies typically aren't concerned with how a baseball team does on the field, but Moody's Investor Service says the Madoff litigation could hurt the team's play.

Investors might care about that because the New York City Industrial Development Agency municipal bonds that helped finance the construction of Citi Field are backed by gate receipts at the stadium. If financial turmoil affects the team's play, investors could lose, Moody's reasoned as it gave the bonds a negative outlook last week. It left the rating itself unchanged at Ba1, below investment grade.

"The change in rating outlook reflects the potential for pending litigation against the owners of the New York Mets . . . to negatively impact the quality and performance of the . . . team and subsequently to negatively affect attendance levels at the ballpark," Moody's wrote in its rating note.

Fred Wilpon, the team's principal owner, told reporters Thursday in Florida that his company would be "vindicated" in the Madoff litigation and that his family would not give up control of the team. He is, however, seeking minority partners to invest in the team.

Wilpon again insisted that he, his family and the Mets lost more than they gained in Bernard Madoff's fraudulent investment scheme.

Forbes magazine, in its most recent annual estimation of baseball teams' worth, valued the Mets franchise at almost $860 million.

New York Sports