The New York Mets have announced an agreement to buy the Syracuse Chiefs minor league baseball team. The Chiefs are community-owned and the deal still needs the approval of shareholders.
Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon said there was a little bit of arm twisting by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney and Sen. Charles Schumer to get the Mets to come to Syracuse.
“We’ve given our word that we’re going to be here," Wilpon said. "We plan to be here long-term. We’re going to bring some capital to the ballpark. They’ve told us that we’ll have a conversation about the county and the state bringing some capital to improve it. I know there is a lot of changes going around near the ballpark here that they’ve talked to me about. I think all of that adds up to a long-term relationship.”
The agreement would keep the Chiefs in Syracuse through 2025. One of the fears is that if the team is no longer community-owned, it could eventually move away. Syracuse Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol said being community-owned is one of the reasons why the team has stayed in Syracuse through tough times since 1961.
“And now going forward, this is really just the next evolution," Smorol said. "There is just not enough capital to keep this thing going. We need somebody like the Mets, like the Wilpon family to be able to come in here and keep baseball in central New York.”
The Chiefs have turned around their finances in recent years. The Mets deal needs a two-thirds majority of the Chief’s 11,000 shares from 1,700 shareholders to go through. Cuomo said he is confident it will pass.
"It's in keeping with everything that is happening in central New York," Cuomo said. "Energy begets energy. One of the problems with central New York was for too long we were stagnant and now things are happening."
Shareholders will vote in November. The Mets would take over the team in 2019 after the Chief's affiliation with the Washington Nationals ends next year.