Wednesday, December 21, 2011

$20 Million Can Buy Quality Time With Mr. Met

It is, understandably, not the easiest sell: $20 million to own a small, noncontrolling interest in a baseball team renowned of late for losing — on the field and at the gate.

Of course, the owners of the Mets, who have spent the last four months trying to line up 10 or so minority partners, have some long-term upsides to sell: the $20 million would buy 4 percent of a New York City sports franchise that, history instructs, is likely to rise in value over time.

But for those perhaps uncertain over whether to part with their millions, the owners have listed some less obvious perks that would come with a share of the Queens ball club.

¶ Access to Mr. Met, the team mascot, although the degree of access is not entirely spelled out. It definitely means you, as a part-owner, can schmooze with Mr. Met at Citi Field. It’s less clear whether you could get him to come to your child’s birthday party without a fee.

¶ A formal business card, complete with the prominent designation: “Owner.”

¶ And if you are a wealthy doctor, commodities trader or real estate mogul who wants to try to swat the ball over the newly pulled-in outfield fences at Citi Field on a Mets day off, you are entitled to attend what appears to be an exclusive kind of fantasy camp: “Owners’ workout day.”

These benefits of ownership are laid out in a term sheet given by the Mets’ owners to prospective partners. The document, drawn up by the club’s investment banker and obtained by The New York Times, runs to three pages, and includes a mix of complex financial arrangements and, well, simpler stuff.

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