Michael Repole remembers turning the radio down low and putting it close to his ear at night so his mother wouldn’t hear her 6-year-old son listening to the New York Mets game.
When he graduated from St. Johns University, he waited for the Mets to offer him a job as general manager. Instead, he co- founded Glaceau Vitaminwater sports drink, which he sold to Coca-Cola Co. for $4.1 billion in 2007 and bought a young colt that wears the orange and blue silks of the Mets and is the favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby.
“I bleed orange and blue,” said Repole, 42, a Queens, New York, native who has made known his interest in talking to the Mets’ owners about buying a portion of the team.
Fred and Jeff Wilpon said they may sell up to 25 percent of the Major League Baseball team because of a lawsuit in the Bernard L. Madoff case, after insisting for months the baseball club was safe from the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.
After the Wilpons’ announcement Jan. 28, Repole said his two phone lines were ringing and 22 messages appeared on his Blackberry in a five-minute span.
Repole got in touch with Steve Greenberg, a managing director at Allen & Co., who was hired as the Wilpons’ adviser to address the situation created by the Madoff lawsuit.
“I want to go through the proper channels,” Repole said yesterday in a telephone interview. “Everything is in the early stages. I don’t really think they know what they need to do. When you make a decision this big, there has to be room for flexibility.”
Sterling Equities Inc., the owner of the Mets, Mets LP and Fred and Jeff Wilpon were sued by the trustee liquidating the Madoff business, Irving Picard, on Dec. 7 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.
Picard, in court papers, said that Mets LP had two accounts with Madoff that involved taking out $47.8 million more than the Wilpons invested. Picard has followed the line that net winners are subject to lawsuits to claw back any surplus over their original principal.
The Mets were the third-highest-valued team in the major leagues at $858 million, behind the Yankees ($1.6 billion) and Boston Red Sox ($870 million), Forbes magazine said in April 2010. A sale of 20 percent to 25 percent, as outlined by the Wilpons, would be worth $171.6 million to $214.5 million, based on the Forbes figures.
Repole, who would listen to a Mets game until he fell asleep and often ran home from school to read the results in the New York Daily News, has owned season tickets two rows behind third base for the past 15 years.
“I can’t tell you how much of a Mets fan I’ve been,” Repole said. He was 17 when he watched the Mets win Game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.
While Repole contemplates a role in the Mets’ organization, he awaits word on his race horse’s first workout today at Palm Meadows Thoroughbred Training Center in Boynton Beach, Florida, since the 2-year-old colt won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November.
Uncle Mo was named Champion Two-Year-Old Male during the Eclipse Awards this month and is the early favorite in the Kentucky Derby.
Of his three dreams, Repole said the final one -- to coach the St. John’s University basketball team -- probably is out of his reach. Still, he was at Madison Square Garden in New York today to watch the Red Storm upset national champion Duke University 93-78.
“It’s pretty hard to script all these things that have happened right now,” said Repole, chairman and majority investor in Pirate Booty snacks and Energy Kitchen, a chain of health-conscious fast-food restaurants.
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