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.
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