A temporary restraining order prohibiting the sale of Binghamton Mets (Class AA; Eastern League) to a buyer other than Main Street Baseball and Clark Minker was extended by a federal judge today through April 30, who urged the two sides to mediate their differences.
Main Street Baseball and Clark Minker were granted the temporary restraining order earlier this month, halting B-Mets owners from discussing the sale of the team to another buyer. The issue: Main Street Baseball, along with Clark Minker, had been negotiating the purchase of the B-Mets and entered into a purchase agreement, with a legally binding letter of intent as well as $100,000 in escrow. It’s not the first time the B-Mets owners had negotiated a sale of the team over the past several years — the team’s broker, Richard Billings from the Beacon Group, had also negotiated a sale of the team to Ryan-Sanders Baseball for a potential move to Ottawa, and earlier the team was connected with a potential Richmond move — but each time owners had backed down. The B-Mets were attractive to Main Street Baseball and Minker because the team could potentially be moved to another market, given the team’s short-term ballpark lease at NYSEG Stadium.
The B-Mets owners say this was just a preliminary agreement opening the way for more negotiations; Main Street Baseball is arguing that this is a binding agreement and is asking the court to uphold it. However, the Binghamton Mets owners say they could not come to a final purchase agreement, thus freeing them to enter into another purchase agreement with another buyer just two days after the original purchase agreement expired. (The purchase agreement had a no-shopping clause, prohibiting the B-Mets from talking to other potential buyers. That peculiar timing was a centerpiece of proceedings today.) Hence the disagreement, with Minker and Main Street Baseball taking the issue to the U.S. District Court Northern District of New York. A temporary restraining order barring the sale of the team to another team granted earlier this month was extended today, with the two sides urged to settle things in mediation. Whether that happens remains to be seen; lawyers for Main Street Baseball and Minker indicated they were willing to do so; attorneys for the B-Mets indicated little interest in that route.