Citigroup bailout another subsidy for the Mets?

November 24, 2008

Mets fans can rest easy. Citigroup and the New York Mets have confirmed that their record 20-year, $400 million naming rights deal for the team’s new ball park, set to open for the 2009 baseball season, is still on. Not that Citi could wiggle out of the deal anyway.

On Sunday, the struggling bank won a $326 billion bailout from the federal government. But the Mets deal was signed in 2006, when times were flush for Citi, or at least when the extent of its troubles was harder to see.

To be sure, handing over $20 million a year to the National League baseball team is a drop in the bucket compared to the magnitude of the bailout, but even the bank seems to be having second thoughts about the deal’s value.

Millions of fans and television spectators will be regularly reminded of how much Citi spent to name the baseball field, before ultimately turning to the government to be rescued. Probably not be the branding Citi intended for when it signed the deal.

Here is what CFO Gary Crittendon had to say about it Monday on CNBC:

“That was a decision made in a different time. We have binding legal agreements… I don’t think it’s an issue.”

So let’s follow the money here: The government gives funds to Citigroup, who is now better able to make an annual payment to the Mets. Sounds a bit like a new taxpayer subsidy for the Mets, who are already receiving government subsidies for building their stadium.

9 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Look everyone, we need to wake up to what is happening to our money in this country.

How many banks are we going to “bail out” to the tune of “billions” of dollars. Is anyone out there paying attention to what is happening to the American dollar????
It is declining! Which means very, very soon will not be worth anything! Not even two cents!

We are in very serious trouble, and the government will not tell us that the plan is to change our currency once the economy makes a complete collapse, which could very well be by February of 2009. We cannot continue to operate with trillions (With an s) in debt any longer. This isn’t going to work!

According to a brilliant idea from George Bush Senior, we will change our currency to the “Amero,” and make Canada and Mexico a part of the United States, no more boarders!

Your American dollar in your savings, checking, 401K, everywhere, will no longer be worth anything I suspect, by early next year.


ohhh cool

Posted by taryn Simpson | Report as abusive

I hope that extreme pessimism and despondency for the fate of the greenback does not prove to be the correct forecast! A previous commenter, Cindy, seems to be wishing for this event to occur: when the U.S. Dollar becomes worthless! While most U.S. citizens and other believers in the democratic institutions and ideals this nation was founded upon, remain steadfast and determined to improve each day of our lives through study, hard work, and faith that the future will be better than the past. The folks who are betting against the U.S.A. in these trying times, are most likely trying to gain advantage by attempting to panic the less established members of this great nation. Naughty-naughty-naughty !

Posted by Charles Davidson | Report as abusive

What a disgrace!!! This “Citi” name should NOT APPEAR on that ballpark. The Taxpayers are going to revolt real soon! Why should the American citizens pay $400 million to advertise a bank on a stadium. Call it Shea Stadium and get the money back!!!!

Posted by peter | Report as abusive

So, now all U.S. taxpayers are part owners of the Mets. Oh good.

Posted by David Hollis | Report as abusive

I never understood corporate names for stadiums anyway, since taxpayers pay for the building and maintenance of the stadium. I mean, I know it’s to make more money, but that’s pretty stupid. If there’s any team that rakes in enough money to choose any name in the world for their stadium, it’s the Mets. They get a big crowd no matter how the team is doing, so they don’t need the extra money from a corporation. And I’m sure ticket prices aren’t going to get any lower. I’ll still go to some games and call the stadium “The New Shea” no matter what happens

Posted by Emily | Report as abusive

Imagine the goodwill that the Mets would earn if they let Citigroup out of the agreement. I agree with the comment that the Mets could probably survive just fine without the $20M per year. And wouldn’t there be another corporate sponsor with $400M to burn just around the corner?

Posted by Dave O | Report as abusive

I have to agree with the previous posters … why should the taxpayer fund this type of contract. If we’ve seen anything as of late, contracts are re-negotiable or in this case can be terminated. The problem is the funding from the US Government comes with no requirements on how it is spent. Few successful investors on the planet do this.

Whether the Mets can survive or not I don’t know, but like major sports teams, they need lots of cash to pay exorbitant salaries to players.

Posted by Russ | Report as abusive

Citibank has a contract and it has to meet those obligations, though that’s a good point that the logo will now likely remind everyone of the bailout, so as publicity goes, it’s probably not worth the money.

Matt Cerrone at wants Apple to purchase the naming rights so the new stadium could be called The Apple. See his idea here: citi-field-deal-is-fine-per-mets/

If the Mets, Apple, and Citibank get together they can work out a deal that could benefit all of them. Mets would get good publicity for letting Citibank off the hook, and therein not taking any more taxpayer money. Citibank would not pay for 20 years of bad publicity, but instead could subsidize Apple’s naming rights for a million a year. And Apple would get good publicity for stepping in, and get a discount on the naming rights. Now THAT is a plan.

Posted by Sergio H | Report as abusive

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