The owners of the Binghamton Mets (Class AA; Eastern League) are being sued by Main Street Baseball and Clark Minker over an aborted sale of the team, with the court being asked to halt the potential sale of the team to another suitor.
That the B-Mets have been on the market for the last four years is no secret, with Beacon Sports repping the sale of the franchise. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court Northern District of New York, lays out the plan by Main Street Baseball and Minker to buy the Binghamton Mets for $8.5 million and move the team to Wilmington, Del., while selling the Carolina League Blue Rocks franchise to the Texas Rangers. (Main Street Baseball owns other MiLB teams in addition to the Blue Rocks, including the Quad Cities River Bandits, High Desert Mavericks and Billings Mustangs.) Main Street Baseball and Minker have been negotiating some serious upgrades to Frawley Stadium, and local officials were reportedly enamored with the prospect of upgrading the level of play while also competing regionally with Phillies, Nationals and Yankees farm teams. (In fact, the Philadelphia Phillies — who control the Wilmington market — signed off on the deal.) A letter of intent was signed at the Winter Meetings, and an escrow deposit of $100,000 was made on the purchase.
However, the 60 days specified in the LOI for negotiations passed with limited communications, and on March 13, 2015, Michael Urda — the B-Mets owner negotiating for the ownership group — had his lawyer break negotiations on the sale, while allegedly prepping to sell the team to another group. The lawsuit from Main Street Baseball and Minker alleges that the LOI prohibited the B-Mets ownership from shopping the team to another buyer. That forms the basis of the lawsuit, which asks the court to step in and prevent the sale of the B-Mets to another buyer.
The local newspaper doesn’t sound too thrilled that the B-Mets ownership has denied being in discussions to sell the team, only to find out in a lawsuit that the team has indeed been on the market:
Urda has adamantly denied previous reports that the Binghamton Mets were for sale, but the lawsuit paints a completely different picture of what was going on behind the scenes. Over the past four years, the suit states, owners have been trying to sell the team, getting “very close to consummating a transaction, but each time the buyer backed out.”
On Thursday, Urda vigorously denied the allegations in the lawsuit, but acknowledged that he is shopping the team to a new owner as he prepares for retirement. He said the ownership group’s primary concern is to keep the team in Binghamton.
“The Binghamton Mets have been served with what we consider to be meritless lawsuit by someone who wants to buy and move the team, and the Binghamton Mets are going to vigorously defend that lawsuit,” Urda said in a prepared statement released Thursday evening.