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Citi Field it is...

Citi Field it is...

As expected, the Mets are going to keep their $400 million (thank you) and not rename Citi Field.

“The company is still an ongoing company and a vital company that is doing business around the globe,” Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said Tuesday. “The taxpayers are backstopping what’s going on in the global economy. It’s not really Citi’s fault that they’re in this problem. There are a lot of other banks in the same situation — with naming-rights deals, also.”

Last week I asked UmpBump readers whether the Mets should rename Citi Field given the current economic turmoil surrounding Citigroup (the people obviously behind the naming rights).

Though not an overwhelming majority, 34% of you did vote for a name change that would somehow allude to the fact that the government dipped twice into tax payers’ wallets, first by subsidizing construction of the ballpark and most recently by bailing out Citigroup.

Here are the final results.

[poll id="15"]

I voted for the “I don’t give a crap” option, not because I didn’t think the Mets should’ve renamed it, but because I believe there are bigger things at work here. Like, uhm, a crumbling economy. And I also happen to think that a multi-million dollar naming-rights deal by a financial institution getting bailed out by Congress is an example of said crumbling economy. But I digress…

16 Responses to “Mets opt not to rename Citi Field; don’t care what you think”

  1. The Mets should NOT back out of the deal.
    If Citigroup merges with another company the new parent picks up the deal. It isn’t the Mets fault that Citigroup leaders mismanaged their company. It’s not the Mets fault the Fed can’t see the forest through the trees and is pushing the USA economy into the ocean.
    If there is any name change it should be Federal Reserve Field.

  2. Wow. I can’t believe he really said, “It’s not really Citi’s fault that they’re in this problem.”

    Really?

  3. Alejandro Leal says:

    Pedro, but aren’t we all supposed to hold these public entities accountable? Didn’t we just elect Change into the White House?

    All rhetorical questions aside, I think the Mets (and Major League Baseball, for that matter) are analogous to the auto industry and their love affair with the Hummers, GMC Yukons, Ford Excursions, Cadillac Excalades, etc. The difference being that those luxuries run on oil, while baseball runs on American tradition.

    But I should’ve offered Federal Reserve Field as an option, that has “win” written all over it…

  4. The whole idea is preposterous. It’s just two Councilmen from Staten Island who want to get their names in the papers. Can you prove that the bailout money is going to CitiField? If this money was budgeted by Citigroup separately, then the bailout cash has nothing to do with it.

    Besides, isn’t that like saying every present you’ve bought for friends and family are really from your employer?

    And I will never take someone who says “Not naming the field after Jackie Robinson in the first place: mindless” seriously. Jackie played in Brooklyn. For the Dodgers. The Mets play in Queens. And they’re the Mets. It makes no sense.

  5. Even if the bailout money isn’t going directly to Citi buying naming rights, should they be blowing $400 MM on naming rights? Citi can spend their money however they see fit when it’s their money. I’m sorry but when they start taking government handouts then how they spend their money should be more publicly scrutinized. To me it’s preposterous that a failing company taking government handouts would choose to allocate resources to a naming rights deal. Grandstanding Councilmen aside this type of corporate irresponsibility sickens me. Pigs at the trough.

  6. And another thing, when I purchase gifts for friends or family, I’ve actually earned the money. How is spending a paycheck you’ve worked for comparable to taking a handout? The government doesn’t send me a check every December in order for me to go buy presents.

  7. Sarah Green says:

    I agree with Melissa. Obviously Citi is strapped for cash and naming a stadium is a luxury they can’t afford. Just like the Big Three had to get rid of their private jets, Citi should have to forgo naming the stadium.

    Judging from this article, keeping the Citi name is hardly going to be a good PR move for the Mets.

  8. Sarah Green says:

    And yeah, Citi doesn’t work for the taxpayers. It works for its shareholders.

    This situation is more akin to me going to my parents, claiming that I’m broke, asking them for 100k living expenses, and then going on a shopping spree. Sure, I could make the case that I’ll need those new clothes because that’s part of my marketing strategy for getting a better job. But it’s pretty flimsy.

  9. Coley Ward says:

    I agree that keeping the Citi name probably isn’t a good PR move for the Mets, but I understand why they’re not rushing to dump Citi. In this economy, would they be able to find another company to shell out $400 million? Doubtful.

  10. Paul Moro says:

    In their eyes (I have no idea how true this is), a naming right is an income generator. It’s PR money that they were going to spend one way or the other. It’s not entirely useless. Sure, it seems ostentatious and Caligulan (this is probably not a word), but I don’t see an ethical dilemma here if it generates revenue so the company can get back on track. It’s not like AIG execs going off and throwing huge parties for themselves.

    But then again, I think I’m in the minority here in regards to my attitude towards corporate America.

  11. Sarah Green says:

    I think 400 million could be more effectively spent than on naming rights to a stadium at this time. Right now, that is money that is having a negative effect on their PR. If they’re going to spend 400 million on PR, they want it to have a positive impact. Right now, for free, they could have a positive impact on their image by asking the Mets to release them from the deal. The Mets probably wouldn’t say yes, but they could at least try.

  12. Alejandro Leal says:

    I think we ought to keep in mind that the deal was signed in 2006. Even though we’re pretty much Monday-morning-quarterbacking here, it actually speaks to the point of how reckless corporations (and yes, people too, even me) had been in splurging their money.

    And I love how Adsense is serving a Chevy “Gas-friendly to gas-free” ad on this page…

  13. Sarah Green says:

    I feel like the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is probably a pretty good excuse for getting out of the deal.

  14. Is that even legally possible to begin with? I really don’t know. I’m guessing that both sides would have to mutually agree to back away, which is going to get very messy. If Citi backs out, the Mets have every right to sue them and vice versa. It’s going to cost both sides a lot of money. The Mets already must have spent a crapload advertising and printing materials with the name CitiField. They can’t just go back on it immediately.

  15. Sarah Green says:

    It’s a good point, Paul. Given the outrage over the bailouts though, I think there’s some low-hanging doing-the-right-thing fruit to be grabbed here by at least trying to come up with a solution. Maybe they just renegotiate when the cash will actually be paid, or some such. But this is the risk that all sports stadia run when they take corporate money. It’s why the Jake isn’t the Jake anymore. It’s why the FleetCenter is now the TD BankNorth Garden. The Patriots are lucky they can still call it Gillette and not P&G Field or some such thing.

  16. Exactly, Sarah. The ideal scenario is to not seek naming rights to begin with. It creates a sense of separation between the teams and the fans (kind of like what the “P” was doing for Diddy and his fans) when there’s this third party (sponsor company) involved.

    But money just makes things easier. So that’s the route they take and I can’t blame them entirely. It’s just a reality that bursts our bubble a bit.

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