As the financial turmoil surrounding Citigroup unfolded this past week, resulting in the proposed bailout by Congress (and you and me), a very pertinent question that at one point seemed a settled matter popped into the minds of many: Is it fair that the word “Citi” as in “Citigroup” is associated with the Mets’ new stadium, aka Citi Field?
In 2006, Citigroup signed a 20-year deal with the Mets, worth $400 million, in order to provide a name and a sponsor to the team’s new home. Now that the financial institution is the latest behemoth to fall prey to the mortgage crisis and the bad economy, that deal is begining to rub some people the wrong way – especially so after Citi announced massive layoffs of historic proportions.
So far Citi has maintained that their “commitment to the Mets and [the] new ball park is firm,” as Jay Horwitz, the team’s Vice President for media relations, told mlb.com last week.
Steve Silverman, spokesman for Citi, told the New York Times that their commitment to the Mets is firm; “it’s important to us,” he said.
But the Citi bailout isn’t going down easy. This week’s announcement that Citigroup would be given a helping hand by the government, was the second such injection of cash in a span of a couple of months, and understandingly, people are pissed.
“Perhaps a name change is in order, since it will be the taxpayers of the country who will foot the bill for not only part of stadium, but for the company itself,” Mr. Ignizio said. “The taxpayers are spending billions for this company to maintain its operations and deserve the recognition for their largess.”
Mr. Oddo quipped: “Not naming the field after Jackie Robinson in the first place: mindless. Tom Seaver stepping onto the new mound for the first time: timeless. Actually acknowledging the contributions of the hardworking taxpayer: priceless.”
Now, Taxpayer Field doesn’t have that nice of a ring to it, but it would be a more accurate reflection of the financing behind the stadium given the situation. Let’s follow the money: The construction of Citi Field is being subsidized with about $450 million in public funds, and now Citigroup is getting a shot in the arm of tax payer money, so yea, maybe a nod to taxpayers is in order. Stadium name changes aren’t unheard of, you are aware that Minute Maid Park was once called Enron Field?
Let’s put it up to a poll, shall we? Now that Citigroup is being rescued, it’s tentatively safe to asume it’ll stick around, but it’ll have the specter of the bailout hanging over its head: