Chiefs home finale

FILE - NBT Bank Stadium hosts the Syracuse Chiefs' home finale in 2012. 

Ben Meyers, The Citizen

When the New York Mets played their inaugural season in 1962, the franchise was affiliated with the Syracuse Chiefs. 

Fifty-five years later, the Mets have returned to central New York. 

At an event Tuesday at NBT Bank Stadium in Syracuse, Mets officials, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney formally announced that the team will buy the Syracuse Chiefs. The Chiefs would become the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in 2019. 

The sale is subject to approval by shareholders of Community Baseball Club of Central New York, which has owned the Chiefs since 1961. Major League Baseball and Onondaga County, which operates the Chiefs' ballpark, NBT Bank Stadium, also must approve the transaction. 

Shareholders will have until Nov. 17 to cast their votes, according to the governor's office. 

If the sale is approved, the Chiefs will play at NBT Bank Stadium through the 2025 season. 

"We've made a commitment to baseball," Mahoney said, "and the best option we have for long-term security to have this level of baseball in Syracuse is with the Mets." 

The Chiefs are entering the final year of a player development agreement with the Washington Nationals, one of the Mets' division rivals. The Chiefs have been affiliated with the Nationals since 2009. 

Jeff Wilpon, the Mets' chief operating officer, said the Chiefs' affiliation with the Nationals will continue through 2018. Once it concludes, the Mets will establish Syracuse as its Triple-A affiliate. 

Wilpon brought a 1962 National League official program with him to the event which mentions the club's affiliation with Syracuse during its inaugural season. 

"This is somewhat of a homecoming for the Mets," he said. 

The Mets believe its farm system will benefit from having a new Triple-A affiliate close to its home city. The team's current Triple-A affiliate is in Las Vegas, which can pose challenges when injuries occur and players need to be promoted to fill roster spots. 

Traveling from Las Vegas to New York City can take several hours. A flight from Syracuse to New York City lasts more than an hour. 

Cuomo, a lifelong Mets fan, anticipates a boost for baseball in Syracuse. The Chiefs have struggled financially for years and lag behind other Triple-A clubs in attendance. 

With the Mets' top minor league affiliate in Syracuse, Cuomo believes the club will attract fans from across upstate New York. 

There's another reason Cuomo is excited about the sale. Beginning in 2019, three of the Mets' minor league affiliates will be based in New York. The Binghamton Rumble Ponies are the Mets' Double-A affiliate. The Brooklyn Cyclones are the Mets' short season class A affiliate in the New York-Penn League. 

"They would be an all-New York state team," Cuomo said. "That's what the Mets are all about." 

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