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Citi Stands By $20 Million Mets Stadium Deal -- With Taxpayer Money

The New York Mets have left Shea Stadium for a new next-door ballpark set to be opened next season, called Citi Field.

Yes, that Citi.

The Citi that, in October, got $25 billion worth of government bailout money and today got an additional $20 billion lifeline from taxpayers, in addition to other assurances made by the government to keep one of the world's largest banks in business.

Citi has reportedly agreed to pay $20 million per year for 20 years for the naming rights to the new Mets' ballpark.

On Friday, Citi said it will stand by its expenditure.

Today, that expenditure doesn't look so P.R.-savvy, given that a) Citi said it will let go 52,000 workers by next year and b) some portion of the naming rights will now be paid for by taxpayer money.

CNBC did a non-scientific poll today, asking whether the government should force Citi to break its contract with the Mets and save the $400 million. A whopping 77 percent voted "yes."

Naming rights can be a tricky issue. Sports stadiums are prominently posting the names of companies that can go out of business faster than you can turn a double-play.

How many 1990s stadiums named for dot-com or other high-flying companies had to take down the letters when the companies went dot-bust?

Remember when the Baltimore Ravens's M&T Bank Stadium was PSINet Stadium?

When the New England Patriots's Gillette Stadium was CMGI Stadium? Yeah, us neither.

What about when the Houston Astros's Minute Maid Park was Enron Field?

Naturally, Citi's decision to stick with the Mets -- and the Mets' decision, at least so far, to stick with Citi -- has inspired Internet wags to propose various alternate names for the new ballpark, such as "Bailout Ballpark," "Paulson Park" or simply, "Citi Field: Sponsored by the U.S. Taxpayers."

-- Frank Ahrens

Editor's Note: Yes, the new ballpark is right next to the old one, so the LaGuardia overflights are likely to continue to intermittently drown out ball games.

The Ticker is Twittering!

By Frank Ahrens  |  November 24, 2008; 5:42 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Citigroup  
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Next: Today: A Busy Lineup


ya gotta be kiddin...say it ain't so, joe!! if folks are on the bread lines,,,,wait a minute, they are on the bread lines!!!!, how can citi and the guvmint figure this will fly,,,how bout the car guys,,,they ain't even gettin a sniff at 'loans' to keep people on the job,,citi gets cash and lays off 50000 folks,,,ahhhh thats right, don't want the bread lines to get to short,,,what is it the tv guy says,,' gimme a break'. come on obama...fix it afore its really broke!!!

Posted by: john_a_sorensen | November 24, 2008 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? They're advertising... why don't you post their advertising budget, and write another asinine article about how Citi should now stop advertising because they're accepting government bailout money. Do we as the taxpayers want to get the money back someday? Well, then it would be nice if people knew that Citi was still solvent and able to provide services, not falling off a cliff and abandoning ad campaigns.

Posted by: dapaha | November 24, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

This is really disgusting. The USA, where the braindead citizenry protect WallStreet thieves with money stolen from their own children.

Posted by: lichtme | November 24, 2008 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey dapaha, since when did paying a Major League Baseball team $400 million to have your name on a building become the only way to advertise? Give me a break dapaha...I can not believe that you are ok with this. Citigroup has been around since the early 1800's. People will know who they are whether or not they follow through with this deal with the Mets.

Posted by: johndunphy07 | November 26, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

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