By Ryan Fox
OSWEGO, N.Y.– Two years ago, 4,000 people held stock in the Syracuse Chiefs. This year, that number is down to 1,700. Syracuse.com reports that the Chiefs turned over 5,626 shares held by 2,300 people to New York state in 2015 and 2016 as abandoned property because the club had lost contact with their owners.
According to Chiefs General Manager Jason Smorol, the team had no choice but to turn over the stocks, as it was required to clear its shareholder rolls of “dormant” stock by the state’s Abandoned Property Law. Under this law, businesses in New York are required to transfer abandoned money or securities to the state comptroller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds in a process called escheatment. While the transfer of dormant stock is required by state law, Syracuse.com reports that the Chiefs had never transferred it before their 2013 change in leadership.
The Chiefs have been community owned since 1961, when the AAA Montreal Royals moved down to Central New York. The local community wanted to ensure their team would be in Syracuse without worrying about a satellite owner moving it to a bigger market. Shares of the team were sold in 1961 and 1967 at $10 a share. With the team’s impending sale to the New York Mets, an official Chiefs press release values valid shares at $1,440 a peice. Abandoned shares have been frozen at $19 a share.
Syracuse.com reports that Smorol is in talks with the Comptroller’s Office about reissuing stock to those who come forward before the sale to the Mets goes through.
Owners of purged shares can contact the state comptroller’s office to try and reinstate their shares at (800) 221-9311.