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Martin Luther King III confirms his interest in the Mets

Jan 31, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

Martin Luther King III

Over the weekend we learned that Martin Luther King III is interested in becoming one of Fred Wilpon’s “strategic partners.”  Last night he released a statement confirming this interest:

“I believe in the merit and American value of creating an example, and if I personally, or as part of a collective, can advance the vision of a more diverse ownership group in professional sports, domestically or internationally, then, like my father, I am prepared to act in that spirit.  There has been a lot of discussion and speculation about my participation in the acquisition of the New York Mets. The public release of those discussions was premature.”

King is planning on meeting with the Wilpons this week.

I may be wrong about this, but I don’t recall King ever being mentioned as a potential owner or head of an ownership group.  I imagine, however, that the Mets sale is going to bring out a lot of unusual suspects.  It’s been a while since either the Mets or Yankees sold, and since then the value of those franchises compared to all of the others has become apparent. That said, I continue to believe that the Wilpons will have a hard time simply selling off a quarter of the team, either because they owe too much to government for that to make sense for them or because potential buyers realize that they have an opportunity to take the team over rather than merely be satisfied with a non-controlling share.  As Joel Sherman reports, Major League Baseball officials feel the same way. They’ve gone so far as to call the Wilpons “delusional” in this regard.

As for King himself: his career has been a tad spotty.  He lost reelection as a Fulton County commissioner in the early 90s after revealing that he owed the federal government more than $200,000 in back taxes.  He was suspended as the head of the Southern Christian Leadership conference after the board cited him for inactivity and insubordination to the board’s interests (though he came back and improved in the role). Some have charged that King has sought to commercialize his father’s legacy by doing things like licensing (for profit) the “I have a dream” speech and suing media outlets who use it without the family’s authorization.

Of course, given that he’s seeking to enter a fraternity that includes Frank McCourt, David Glass and Jeff Loria, none of this should be a concern.

  1. bloodysock - Jan 31, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    His father had a dream. Owning the Mets recently seems like more of a nightmare.

  2. seeingwhatsticks - Jan 31, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    I find it kind of, unsettling that a man whose main jobs include running a non-profit and being the head of a church (also a non-profit) would have enough money to be a major investor in a Major League Baseball team. Either the non-profit world has a lot more profits than I thought it did, or the Mets really are worthless.

    • ta192 - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:40 PM

      Does make you think, doesn’t it!

      • seeingwhatsticks - Jan 31, 2011 at 3:27 PM

        It does. Makes me think this is a PR move for one or both sides, but also reminds me what a racket big churches can be and makes me think maybe we need to re-examine the tax exempt status they all enjoy. I suppose it’s possible that MLKIII has invested his money incredibly well but I don’t recall his father being a tremendously wealthy individual and even though the MLK Jr estate has licensed use of some of his works I don’t think they’ve done it a lot, at least not enough to be able to afford a large chunk of a NY based sports franchise. Like I said, just a little unsettling on a lot of fronts.

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 31, 2011 at 2:54 PM


    • kiwicricket - Jan 31, 2011 at 5:45 PM

      But he’s just trying to ‘advance the vision of a more diverse ownership group in professional sports’ though……Right?

  3. BC - Jan 31, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Can someone get Mark Cuban on the horn and just fix this thing?

  4. drunkenhooliganism - Jan 31, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    I hope Bud tries to forbid MLK3 from owning a baseball team (or more likely a group including King). Maybe that will finally get the public irate enough to force him out of office.

    Cuban should recruit King to be part of his ownership group. Selig can’t say no to Martin Luther King III?

    • BC - Jan 31, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      Maybe Cuban could just buy Major League Baseball.

  5. Jason @ IIATMS - Jan 31, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    How a minor interest could be worked:

    1) It contains an option that triggers when the elder Wilpon passes away
    2) The investor gets first right of refusal if Wilpon needs to raise addition money, effectively giving the investor a majority stake
    3) The Wilpons find several 5% owners in lieu of one group who buys 20-25% in one block

  6. sdelmonte - Jan 31, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    My prediction is that someone offers the Wilpons enough money for everything that they sell the whole team. I honestly don’t know who has that kind of money and wants to own a baseball team – Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs don’t see like prospective owners, do they? But even with the Great Recession, there are enough really rich people in New York who could do it.

  7. nc1616 - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    Let me start by saying I really like this blog. I have a minor nit, however, on these Mets/Madoff posts. You’ve indicated a few times that the Mets are facing suit, or somehow owe money to, “the governement” related to the Madoff Ponzi scheme. Unless I missed something, that’s not the case. Obviously, one could argue that a bankruptcy trustee fills some kind of quasi-governmental role, but that’s a far cry from the Mets being suied by the SEC, DOJ etc…, which the langauge in some of these posts (unintentially, I suspect) indicate. Thanks.

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