Saturday, July 12, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Axis of Evil: Madoff, Citi, and the New York Mets

Axis of Evil: Madoff, Citi, and the New York Mets

 

They say that you can judge someone by the company they keep. If so, we now have pretty clear evidence why the New York Mets have been such utter frauds on the playing field these last few seasons, blowing a clear shot at the 2006 World Series followed by two epic September collapses in the face of the hard-charging Phillies.

It turns out that fraud is hard-wired into the Mets' DNA, that the team's 2000s partial revival has been paid for heavily on the backs of Wall Street's ill-gotten gains. We've already told you about the travesty that is Citi Field, the team's glistening new ballpark in Queens.

The stadium is heavily underwritten as a marketing vehicle for Citigroup, in a $400 million deal, which is now $400 million of your tax dollars and mine, since we've paid out billions to keep the unrepentitant bank, which traded heavily in risky mortgage-backed securities, to keep it afloat. The new revenue streams from luxury suits and club seats in Citi Field are what enabled the Mets to easily go out and buy a new bullpen when they couldn't compete with the Phillies straight up.

But ultimately, the Mets/Citibank alliance is a bit of a Ponzi scheme, since it depends on luring a steady stream of rich Manhattan penthouse fans to buy the highest price tickets -- in order to keep afloat a franchise that historically has been a bedrock for working class folks from Queens and Brooklyn.

Quite ironically, to compete, the Mets needed fans like...Bernie Madoff.

NEW YORK -- The prime Citi Field seats of Bernard Madoff's company could soon be available.

The New York Mets season tickets, just behind home plate, will likely be resold by the trustee for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.

"We have no intention of not monetizing them and letting them go unused," trustee Irving H. Picard said Saturday in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "When we have something to announce, we will do so."

How much do Madoff's posh baseball accomodations cost? If you have to ask, they're not for you:

They cost $595 for gold games, $495 for silver games, $395 for bronze games and $295 for value games. Overall, the season ticket comes to $40,095 per seat, an average of $495.

(Just as aside, as a teenager growing up inside the Evil Empire, I used to attend games at Shea Stadium all the time, in the top 10 rows of the upper deck. The price for a ticket was $1.30. I did not misplace the decimal point. But I digress...)

I realize that Mets' owner Fred Wilpon was also scammed by Madoff, which is not that shocking if you watched some of the team's gullible on-the-field moves. Nevertheless, this whole episode is filled with a moral and a metaphor, for what happens when a once blue-collar baseball team leaves the values of Flushing's Main Street for the glitzy allure of Wall Street.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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