As one of MLB's perennial underdogs, the New York Mets have as much trouble performing on the field as they do paying back millions in debt.
Mets executives are now tasked with paying back $162 million in profits they earned through fake investments with Bernie Madoff
after it was revealed in 2008 that the white-collar criminal defrauded investors of upwards of $20 billion.
Now, the team's owners want to open a casino next to the Mets' Citi Field at Willets Point in Queens to offset the millions they lost in Madoff's Ponzi scheme, the New York Post reported.
The casino would occupy 62 acres of land and feature tables and slots, a 500-room full-service hotel, and more than 1.8 million square feet of retail space.
The project won't begin for at least a year, the proposal states, and Sterling Equities, the development branch that Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz run, will spearhead the project.
New York State legislators approved the development of seven new casinos in May 2012, Reuters reported. At the time, the location of the casinos had not been decided.
"We are finally confronting the reality that while New York is already in the gaming business, we need a real plan to regulate and capitalize on the industry," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said.
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had been talking about a gaming facility at either Willets Point or Coney Island for months, according to an August report in the New York Daily News.
If the casino is successful, the profits could be just what the embattled team needs.
In 2011, with a payroll of about $143 million, the Mets lost $70 million. Last year, Mets management whittled down its payroll to $93 million.
In a 2012 settlement, Katz and Wilpon were ordered to pay back the $162 million lost in the Madoff debacle. The MLB allowed the team a $40 million bank loan to help pay the sum back, and that debt is in addition to the $25 million the Mets already owed the MLB.
At one point in 2012, liberal commentator Bill Maher bought a stake in the team
A MLB spokesperson told the New York Post the league would “need to get all of the details of the agreement” for the casino before moving forward, and that league commissioner Bud Selig would ultimately make a decision about it.
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