Citigroup bailout another subsidy for the Mets?
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.