At the end of the day, the independent Atlantic League — and not a New York Mets group — snared a deal to manage and play at a new Nassau County ballpark because Frank Boulton could unconditionally deliver a team.
There were two groups bidding to manage and play in a new $50 million Long Island ballpark: Atlantic League founder Frank Boulton was behind the winning bid. Blumenfeld Development Group, a local firm, and Sterling Equities, which is controlled by the New York Mets ownership, was the other bidder.
There was one big hole in the Mets’ bid, we’re told by insiders: there was no guarantee of a team, so the bid was very conditional. An Class AA Eastern League team was envisioned for the Nassau County market. The Mets do not own a team that could move to Long Island, and they had not begun the process to either buy a team or recruit one owned by another ownership group. (There are at least three teams in the Eastern League for sale or available to move.) In addition, there’s an unofficial agreement between the Mets and the New York Yankees that they work in tandem to bring minor-league teams to their territories, a situation that happened when the Yankees moved a farm team to Staten Island and the Mets moved a team to Brooklyn. Since it appears the Yankees are pretty happy with their affiliation with the Trenton Thunder (Class AA; Eastern League), insiders didn’t expect the Yanks to object to a Mets Long Island team — but a waiver was never requested from the Yankees front office.
Now, it’s not a sure thing the Mets would have landed the deal even if guaranteeing a team: Boulton’s track record with the Long Island Ducks and a bid that largely mirrored the Ducks’ lease (which everyone seems happy with) did give him instant credibility with Nassau County officials. Still, the lure of affiliated ball is powerful. This, as far as we can gather, is the first time an independent team has snared a territory sought by an affiliated team.
The new ballpark is not a sure thing: Voters will be asked to approve $400 million in bonding on Aug. 1, with $50 million earmarked for a new ballpark.
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