Should Citibank Pay $400 Million To Name A Stadium While Taking Taxpayer Money?

The New York Mets are getting a new stadium. It’ll be called Citi Field and that honor cost Citibank (and by extension, one could argue, taxpayers) $400 million.

Citigroup said in a statement yesterday that no bailout funds were being used to name the stadium, but that it hasn’t made a final decision about whether or not to go through with the deal.

A week ago, two congressmen, Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) and Ted Poe (R., Texas) wrote to new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, asking him to “push Citigroup to dissolve the Mets deal.”

“Citigroup is now dependent on the support of the federal government for its survival as an institution,” the letter said. “As such, we do not believe Citigroup ought to spend $400 million to name a stadium at the same time that they accept over $350 billion in taxpayer support and guarantees.”

So, what should we do?


Citi Explores Breaking Mets Deal [WSJ via Gothamist]
(Photo:wallyg)

Comments

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  1. Plates says:

    They should name it “Screw the Taxpayer Field” regardless if Citi pays for the naming rights since all these stadiums screw the taxpayers with this disgusting corporate welfare. In the old days the teams bought the land and built the stadium without any government money. Now these teams engage in daylight robbery while schools and other city services suffer.

    • cynical_bastard says:

      @Plates: That never made sense to me…

      I hate how the owners leverage their team to get free(or next to free) stadiums.

    • KyleOrton says:

      @Plates: Naw, let the screwed taxpayers name the field. The name sign will be one of those digital billboards and interested taxpayers can log on and get 8 hours of billboard time for whatever message they like.

      • plyhard13 says:

        @KyleOrton: How about Busch Stadium in St. Louis? A gorgeous ballpark built almost exclusively from private funds. They’re not all taxpayer money pits…just most of them!

        • snowburnt says:

          @plyhard13: …and then there’s national’s stadium in DC…Paid for mostly by the tax payers of DC, most of which could care less about the baseball team. Most of the “fans” are in the suburbs.

          What’s more? The team sued the city for millions when they got there and their offices weren’t completed. I didn’t hear the end of it but it’s one of those feel good stories you love to hear about.

        • KyleOrton says:

          @plyhard13: Well, pffff, I guess if you’re going to be all reasonable-like.

        • TouchMyMonkey says:

          @plyhard13: Wrigley Field. Want to name the ballpark? Buy the team.

  2. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    Citigroup said in a statement yesterday that no bailout funds were being used to name the stadium

    Because all the bailout funds were marked, sequential bills, right?

    Seems like there might be at least one other potential sponsor who would buy them out (for the rights to name the stadium). I think it’s frivolous–everyone knows who they are, so this publicity is unnecessary.

    • Yossarian says:

      @Ash78: Exactly. Money isn’t fungible anymore? Sounds like the keen economic insight that got them into trouble in the first place.

    • Beerad says:

      @Ash78: You just don’t get it. It’s NOT bailout money. Bailout money is going to pay for normal operating costs of keeping the business afloat. THIS money is ordinary money that could be spent on normal operating costs OR huge marketing boondoggles. I mean, just imagine that there are two giant sacks of cash, one for regular “spendin’ money” and one for “bailout money”: since the bailout money is purportedly going to rescue the business, the “spendin’ money” is now freed up to spend on other things. What’s so hard to understand about that?

      • Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

        @Beerad: I’d say about 90% of Congress would have been swayed by that. Well done!

      • Beerad says:

        @Beerad: Okay, having read the remainder of the comments it’s become apparent that it might not be clear that I was joking and that any implied sarcasm may not have been clear. I do not think this is a reasonable expense by Citibank and yes, money is money. Please don’t kill me.

      • hi says:

        @Beerad: If they have 400 Million to name a stadium they don’t need bailout money.

        Imagine that I came to your house with a briefcase full of money and then asked you if I could borrow money from you. Most people would look at the briefcase full of money and say “umm… no”. Obviously you would give me your money, but I would hope that you wouldn’t.

      • Patrick Henry says:

        @Beerad:

        your argument is flawed. It doesn’t matter what label you put the money under. It matters what its SPENT ON. They said they’re a failing business and got tax payers to give them lots of money. Now they want to spend it on something frivolous that in NO way helps them pay for the normal costs of keeping a business afloat. They need to pay that money back to the tax payers with the profit we deserve for giving it to them, THEN they can name a stadium. Not while our bail out funds are still floating around and they’re in debt to the government. You are a HUGE ass.

      • Traveshamockery says:

        @Beerad: Hello sir,

        We are interested in your services. Your financial acumen and commitment to our cause is evident. Please name your salary, and you’re hired (seriously, whatever you want…we have like 4 zillion unused dollars from this government bailout, so have a field day).

        Sincerely,

        Citibank

      • Imaginary says:

        @Beerad:

        Wow you sure did make that simple. Well I’m all for the bailout now. Hell I’m all for execs getting their multi-million dollar bonuses! No…wait….that doesn’t make any sense. You are correct there are two huge sacks of money sitting on that $80,000 rug but that doesn’t mean they just get to throw one in the tub then drain it away. Yes the bailout money should be spent on everyday operations but that doesn’t mean they just get to blow their “spendin” money on frivolous crap. They should be directing all of their assets into everyday business and clearing up their problems, not trying to make sure people know who they are. I believe we should hold these people accountable for every dime spent, now more than ever because it’s our money they’re taking to the race track. I don’t care how Wal-Mart spends their money because they didn’t get a huge chunk of my tax money, but I do care how these banks are blowing their cash because they convinced congress they needed it.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        @Beerad: Ha! That’s obviously how they are justifying it. :)

    • Anonymous says:

      @Ash78:
      I think you are missing the point. If you don’t like how the private sector is running banks, then don’t give them “bailout money” – nationalize them. If you think that the private sector knows best, then let them decide how to spend their advertising budget. Putting strings on how they can spend their ad budget is just a recipe for disaster IMHO.

    • YeaYuh says:

      @Ash78: Was it not the banks that told congress they could not identify how the bailout money was spent because it looked like all their other money?

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Ash78: To be slightly serious for a moment, there may very well be excellent business reasons to spend money on X even while receiving bailout Y, or why pot A and pot B of money are actually NOT interchangeable. Like a local utility was absolutely SCREWING us with rate hikes while still donating generously to local charities, which made people absolutely furious. But those donations were offsetting corporate taxes and stopping them wouldn’t have made any difference to our rates. Not that it still wasn’t bad publicity, and they did a terrifically bad job explaining it.

      And I frankly can’t think of a situation in which “money spent on marketing” isn’t fungible with “money spent on operations.” If they want to go ahead, they need to give the taxpayers a REALLY EXCELLENT rationale.

      @Patrick Henry: Sarcasm fail.

    • Hyman Decent says:

      @Ash78:

      Seems like there might be at least one other potential sponsor who would buy them out (for the rights to name the stadium).

      In the current economic climate, Citi probably can’t get nearly as much for the rights as it has contracted with the Mets for.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      @Ash78: all the bills marked sequentially LOL -but I agree !

      If Citi or anyone else DIDN’T get these bailout funds those dollars amounts for spas,vacations,bonuses or marketing promotions would have been looked at in a whole different light .

      Basically the funds allow ‘ business as usual ‘ in many respects but it was that ‘ business as usual ‘ that got us in this mess in the first place .

  3. spoco says:

    Absolutely not. To a lesser extent, Bobby Lowder (benefactor of Auburn University and founder of Colonial Bank) paid off Tommy Tuberville’s coaching contract ($6 million or so) two days after Colonial Bank received bailout funds.

  4. InThrees says:

    “No bailout funds.”

    Bullshit. Anything not absolutely required to meet day-to-day solvency needs is only possible because of the huge steaming bowl of “Please sir, can I have some more?” you received in the FIRST PLACE.

    Pay back your bailout then buy whatever the hell you want.

    Except for sub-prime backed “Insecurities”, please.

    • HIV 2 Elway says:

      @InThrees: I don’t agree with this particular incident but some degree of advertising is needed to maintain solvency.

      • nataku8_e30 says:

        @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: I would like to see a few different studies that prove that advertising is worth the money. I know that “premium” brands can certainly get away without it, or with very little. In addition, it seems that “generic” brands manage to survive reasonably well, so is the money spent on advertising “name” brands really worth it?

        • supercereal says:

          @nataku83: Personally, advertising certainly makes an impact on what I buy (probably not what bank I go with, though). On countless occasions, I’ve seen a billboard, heard a radio spot, etc. and thought that the product being pitched would make a great gift (Edible Arrangements most recently), or would be a great service for me to purchase.

          • Cyberxion101 says:

            @supercereal: I find that most television advertisements are insulting and insipid, and if anything, turn me off to buying whatever it is that they’re trying to sell me. Print is a little easier to stomach, but even then I don’t find myself compelled to buy things because an advertisement made them look appealing. I find that word of mouth is far more effective a means of advertising.

            • Traveshamockery says:

              @Cyberxion101: The main benefit of advertising is letting you know something exists. If you’re then interested, the ad may provide more information, but most advertising now is about:

              #1 – letting you know the product exists
              #1A – Establishing a brand image for the users of the product

              It’s more powerful than most think.

        • HIV 2 Elway says:

          @nataku83: What premium brands can get away without it? They’ve spent the ad dollars in the past to build their image as a premium brand. They spend ad dollars now to maintain their brand. Building a brand aint cheap, once you have it it must be maintained.

          That said, I think stadium sponsorship is a weak and unoriginal use of limited advertising budgets.

          • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

            @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: Coach used to before they went all shitty and downmarket and positioned themselves as an aspirational luxury brand with advertising and badly-made tacky products.

            Can we call No-Ad sunblock a premium brand? I love that stuff. :)

          • nataku8_e30 says:

            @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: Snap-on for one. Since the only thing I’m ever willing to spend a lot of money on is tools, I’m going to have to leave it there. I’m pretty sure they’re not the only company in the universe that has a great reputation without an expensive advertising / retail infrastructure, though.

        • BluePlastic says:

          @nataku83: I think a lot of time advertising works. Not all the time but a lot. TV ads, print ads, maybe billboards. However, I don’t think that if a giant bank that most people have probably already heard of pays to get a stadium named after them, they are going to reach more customers than they would have otherwise. I think it would be more effective to buy a TV ad that tells customers about a service they might not have known was available. Maybe they have research that says differently – I would be interested to know.

    • snowburnt says:

      @InThrees: Exactly, I wouldn’t have known that “Invesco” or “M&T Bank” existed if it weren’t for the naming rights (not that it makes me want to invest…). Others like Verizon Center and Fed Ex Field just seem like names.

      Then when Candlestick park got renamed Monster Park I know everyone thought that it was the job search site. That’s fitting though that Monster Cable spends millions on naming rights only to in inadvertently advertise for the company they sued for trademark infringements

  5. nataku8_e30 says:

    How can they possibly claim that they’re not using taxpayer money for this. I’m sure there are all sorts of complicated accounting structures that may technically isolate the division of Citi that’s paying for the field from the division of Citi that’s receiving TARP funds, but total corporate income is still total corporate income.

    • snowburnt says:

      @nataku83: I didn’t pay too close attention to which banks caused the biggest fuss over getting the bailout money, but I know some of them didn’t *need* it, but they were allowed to take it and they did in order to stay competitive.

      I could see this being the case here. It doesn’t excuse it in any way shape or form because a lot of tax payer money is involved.

  6. philmin says:

    So now everyone is an expert in advertising and promotion and knows that paying to have a stadium named after your company is bad? Wow. Let’s get this info to the other 70 companies doing this.

    • pulsar0510 says:

      @philmin:
      I don’t think anyone is claiming to be an expert on advertising, just pointing out the blatant hypocrisy involved in taking bailout money and spending $400m on singage at a stadium. As has been pointed out: cook the books any way you want the $400M is coming from their total reserve of funds. It might not be in the exact same account, or what have you, it’s still part of the whole. None of this type of highjinks should be allowed institutions taking bailout money.

    • BuddyGuyMontag says:

      @philmin: When your company is failing, then yes, it’s bad. See: Enron Field, Houston.

    • exconsumer9 says:

      @philmin: I think that’s what’s frustrating. Businesses have to do all kinds of unorthodox things that might seem like a waste of money, but will actually help them out in the end. So sure, maybe paying those executinves loads of money will help them win in the long run, and maybe this stadium naming will help them win in the long run. But the fact that they have that kind of cash means that, had they been paying attention, they could have skillfuly scaled things back over time and avoided the current crisis.

      So yes, given the circumstances, this purchase is probably a mistake for Citibank. The government money should be used towards restructuring their business to be more robust and resilient. Using their loans to simply carry on as if nothing happened is not likely to work well in the long term.

      It would be like someone in trouble taking out a home equity loan, but then just carrying on as usual. What put them in the red before the loan will still put them in the red when the equity loan is gone.

    • HIV 2 Elway says:

      @philmin: I don’t know about stadium naming rights but there are studies (S Pruitt) that have shown positive returns for firms sponsering NASCAR teams.

      • zlionsfan says:

        @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: Even if that study shows that all companies sponsoring NASCAR teams make money (which it probably doesn’t, given the different levels of sponsorship that are available), that’s a completely different game, pardon the expression.

        Nobody bats an eye if you’re talking about the Tide car or the Bud car, and avid fans will tell you everyone who’s driven that car since they began sponsoring a team, or conversely, every car that driver’s had. There’s no such identification with brand names and teams in baseball: sure, devoted and/or local fans can tell you what the park is, but no one talks about the Citizens Bank Phillies or San Francisco PacBell. In fact, there can be considerable resistance to naming a stadium, although that tends to be true more for existing parks than for new ones.

        Plus, there are a number of parks where the naming rights outlasted the company. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad deal for any company that does it, but it certainly suggests that it’s not always a good idea.

        And really, does Citi need to name a stadium to improve their visibility? What exactly are they hoping to get from this?

        • exconsumer9 says:

          @zlionsfan: Exactly. They are already visible, and competition is already less than it was due to all the consolidation and failures. If they don’t use the federal money to leverage cheaper loans to grow the economy, they won’t unwind their situation. I’m not sure what the hell they are thinking. The old game of “use the customer’s house as leverage for whatever interest rate we feel like” won’t work anymore: the housing market is falling! Competitively priced loans with lots of risk research is the only way out. Advertising gains them nothing in their current situation.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @zlionsfan: “There’s no such identification with brand names and teams in baseball: sure, devoted and/or local fans can tell you what the park is, but no one talks about the Citizens Bank Phillies or San Francisco PacBell. In fact, there can be considerable resistance to naming a stadium, although that tends to be true more for existing parks than for new ones.”

          This. I HATE the White Sox with the fire of a thousand suns (way to go on being the third most popular baseball team in a state that only has two!), and I STILL refuse to call it “US Cellular Field.” It’s New Comiskey, it’s not as cool as Old Comiskey, and I will never call it “US Cellular Field.”

          (Why can’t they just call it “Comiskey Park by US Cellular” or something? Seriously?)

          I understand the irony here in that Wrigley Field is named for chewing gum, but it was ALWAYS named that and the team was owned by Wrigley. That’s different.

      • supercereal says:

        @HIV 2 Elway Resurrected: It seems that nearly every NASCAR car has thousands of little corporate decals on them!

        Anyway, advertising is a vital part of every company that deals directly with the general public. Is $400M a bit much for a company in their position? Perhaps. But to say that this is a complete waste of money seems very shortsighted.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @philmin: just because they are not profitable right now, does not mean that they should cut out all advertising.

    • SadSam says:

      @philmin:

      I get you, if Citibank is going to survive as a company and we all want Citibank to survive b/c of our huge tax dollar investment, they have got to operate their business the best way they know how.

      But is the best way to operate their business the same old business as usual (stadium naming, corporate jets huge salaries) or might this be the time to engage in some serious thought that they should get back to making money by lending money to folks who can pay it back.

      • philmin says:

        @SadSam:

        If all of a sudden we are easily lumping “stadium naming” with “corporate jets” then it would be pretty easy to criticize tons of expenses from Citi. The fact of the matter is, regardless of a bailout, Citi will spend billions and billions of dollars on so many different things any given year, that presenting many of them to the public in a negative light will cause outrage.

        Think about it… “City backs out of Stadium deal, elminating 5,000 American jobs… AFTER the goverment gave them bailout money.” Everyone would be getting all pissed off about this. At the end of the day, I’m sick of ever middle class American playing expert when it comes to running a major business.

    • UnicornMaster says:

      @philmin: actually Stadium deals have been the hallmark of a company overspending or misusing marketing money. This wiki page is full of stadium names whose company is now defunct or bankrupt.

      [en.wikipedia.org]

    • AtomicPlayboy says:

      @philmin: That’s just one of the problems of all of this bailout bullshit: now every taxpayer things he’s entitled to determine how the beneficiary businesses should be run. As if Johnnie Taxpayer is suddenly knowledgeable about the reasoning behind broker bonus packages and marquis marketing strategies.

      • LouisaTrigeminus says:

        @AtomicPlayboy:
        “That’s just one of the problems of all of this bailout bullshit: now every taxpayer things he’s entitled to determine how the beneficiary businesses should be run. As if Johnnie Taxpayer is suddenly knowledgeable about the reasoning behind broker bonus packages and marquis marketing strategies.”
        You’ve got to be joking. If they had any better ideas than the rest of us, they wouldn’t have their company collapsing around them, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation. LMAO.

    • edosan says:

      @philmin: Here, let me try to explain it: I just spend my entire paycheck on candy. Now I can’t pay my rent. Can you give me some money to cover it?

  7. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    Citigroup said in a statement yesterday that no bailout funds were being used to name the stadium
    Well gee whiz guys. If you have the money lying around to pay for naming rights, why in the hell did you need bailout money then?
    This is the corporate equivalent of using greenstamps to buy Mad Dog and Schlitz.

  8. IT-Chick says:

    IF they do use bailout money on the field, then I want a cut of the ticket, hot dog, and beer sales.
    I expect a tax credit next year.

  9. JGKojak says:

    Short answer:

    HELL NO.

    And don’t give me the bullshit about its really “two seperate piles”– your company is failing due to mismanagement, you asked the taxpayers for money to prevent your company from failing, and then you want to name a stadium so all your corporate execs get a nice fat suite 8 Sundays a year? No thanks.

    And don’t give me the bullshit about how if Wall Street stops handing out perks then it won’t attract the “best and brightest”. Seems to me the “best and brightest” pretty much fucked things up pretty good.

    Here’s an idea: hire people who are in the financial business to SERVE THEIR CUSTOMERS instead of greedy managers and CEOs who feel entitled to multi-million dollar bonuses and stadium suites. Guess what? Millions of teachers go to work every day to teach your kids, and don’t get a solitary dime of bonus. Likewise, your nurse, your maid and your milkman.

    Maybe your child’s teacher should threaten to only teach esperonto unless you pay her a “language bonus”. Maybe your nurse should provide full assistance if you offer her a financial incentive? Maybe your milkman should deliver sour milk unless you make it worth his personal while.

    Fuck the greedheads. The only people who need to be bribed with public money to do their job are pro athletes, mobsters and Wall Streeters. Good company you keep there.

  10. cwlodarczyk says:

    1. I don’t have a clue as to how they can say “no bailout funds used”. That’s just asinine.

    2. I don’t really care about naming the stadium any more than any other advertising they may do – I don’t see how there is any difference.

  11. intooooo says:

    Banks are in the shitter now, yes, but they CANT back out of every deal they have that causes them expenses…

    although a baseball stadium is probably not the wisest investment of that money, so this one I think they should cut.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Money is fungible, so it’s hard to say that no funds are being used so that’s a bit disingenuous.

    …But, part of any company’s expenses, including those that are receiving bailout money, involves advertising. Citi, now more than ever, needs to advertise its services in order to attract new customers and sell its products. Of course, whether a stadium name is an effective or cost-efficient use of advertising budgets is a separate issue, but it’s hard to say that it’s completely worthless or pointless.

  13. katieoh says:

    the thing is, didn’t obama just tell them “oh hell naw” to the buying of the corporate jet? he should just tell them that again. apparently, they’ll listen to him.

    makes you wonder if bush had just put his foot down, if aig would have not partied…

  14. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Any kind of advertising for a failing bank is toxic anyway.

    That being said…

    “When it starts to rain in Queens, it’ll give new meaning to “rolling out the TARP”.”

    /stolen from FARK

  15. Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

    Maybe they need the stadium for a meeting room. “Mass exit interviews” or something.

  16. Borax-Johnson says:

    C’mon. Its not like its a lot of money. I mean that would barely buy them 8 jets.

  17. Dansc29625 says:

    What did we expect?

  18. calvin1864 says:

    We gave them money, they’re using it.

    The only problem I see is that we gave them money.

  19. etu001 says:

    Well the only problem that I see is that if Citi doesn’t pay for it, New York City is going to have to pick up the tab unless the city can find a new sponsor. Either way tax payers will get screwed.

    Maybe they should call it New York City Field.

    • Mistrez_Mish says:

      @etu001: It’s already 95% complete. I don’t believe that a whole hell of a lot of the Citi funds would have gone towards final construction and other doodads. Probably just extra money in the bank for the Mets. Well… they did already make a ginormous CitiField sign… already plastered to the stadium. So, that was probably going to have come out of the cash from Citi. At most that might have been a 1 – 2 million loss. As a NYC taxpayer, I’m used to having my cash thrown at f*cked up, b*llshit projects like this instead of say, something useful like schools or subway improvements. Yankee Stadium is another prime example, NYC taxpayers paid for most of that too. *Angries grrrrrrrrr*

      • Patrick Henry says:

        @Mistrez_Mish:

        Maybe they should hold a bake sale to make up the funds instead of subsidizing it to tax payers. that sounds like a joke, but they should do it.

    • ekthesy says:

      @etu001:

      This is the best option I’ve seen, but I would just call it “City Field.” That way there is the nod to Citibank (giving them the marketing exposure, which, TARP funds or not, is necessary to building their business back to respectability) while still saving the money. Win-win, except for us poor taxpaying slobs who are still bailing out the fat cats.

    • econobiker says:

      @etu001: Or how about the business using the field actually paying for it?

  20. coan_net says:

    It’s like me spending all my family food money on drugs – then going to get food stamps and state that it is OK since no food stamp money is used in the purchase of the drugs.

    FAIL

  21. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    Perhaps no bailout funds were directly used for this, however, BUT FOR the bailout funds, could Citi even afford this? Likely not. Meaning that the bailout funds did at least directly make the stadium deal possible.

    Better analogy is telling your mom that you “lost” your lunch money. When she gives you more, you get to spend your “lost” money on comics. But for replacement of the lunch money you lied about, you wouldn’t be able to afford comics AND lunch. No comics for Citi!

  22. tc4b says:

    Attention TARP recipients:

    Austerity budgets, NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I hope the public doesn’t get too tired of stories like these to pay attention. With no real regulation in the bill, public scrutiny and embarrassment is the only recourse we have for squandering billions in taxpayer dollars.

    If they don’t like the media sigmoidoscope (sp?), they should pay the money back.

    • varro says:

      @tc4b: Citibank should take this very seriously – I suggest Citibank executives forego their morning latte. That’ll save $4 per latte!

      • YourTechSupport says:

        @varro:
        I think we should grab every Wiccan, Shaman, Fortune Teller, Religious Leader, etc, etc to visit this stadium en masse and place a multitude of curses on it.

        Or, like, burn it down, a precursor to the cleansing fire that will be the real meltdown. *cough*

  23. tailstoo says:

    As long as they are taking ANY bailout money, then they are using the taxpayer’s funds.

    The Jet was a hell of a lot cheaper than this stupid naming garbage.

    Although i guess a deal with the Mets is fitting – they both looked they were doing fine, then choked.

  24. concordia says:

    >no bailout funds were being used to name the stadium
    Right, because they transferred money from one of their profitable business unit’s operating expenses to a specific ‘Sports-Related Advertising Expenses’ account then redistributed the TARP funds to cover the missing funds from the aforementioned BU.

    I’m not an idiot, Citi, you don’t need to be terribly smart to figure something like this out.

  25. DrGirlfriend says:

    Citibank needs an intervention from Larry Winget. He’d burst in on Citibank while they’re about to spend a ton of money on a sign, then play them a video of all the people who are sad at their wasteful spending, then they’d all cry and vow to be better. Larry would draw them a budget on an Excel spreadsheet and they’d be fine in no time.

  26. Rhayader says:

    OK folks, first of all this is an advertising opportunity; companies wouldn’t put their names on stadiums if they didn’t feel the increased revenue from the advertising outweighed the initial cost. In other words, they expect to make this money back, and then some.

    Also, what about the Mets? They are building a new stadium, and if it isn’t privately funded it’s publicly funded. They won’t just stop construction if Citi drops out (or is forced out). There was an agreement in place before this bailout, and Citi has an obligation to their business partners to honor that agreement.

  27. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Well the problem is that if Citibank takes away the $400 million from the Mets, then the Mets will just request a bailout and we’ll start giving taxpayer money to the Mets so they can continue to pay overpriced baseball players who aren’t even American citizens.

  28. full.tang.halo says:

    I’ve never understood buying naming rights for stadiums. I grew up in Indianapolis and went to almost every home colts game at the Hoosier Dome. They changed the name one year to the “RCA Dome” guess what people still called it the Hosier Dome. I’d really like to know if the millions of $$$ that RCA spent ever translated to sales for them. I’ve never purchased anything from RCA in my life unless they made a component in another companies item, and then again, what was the point?

    • pollyannacowgirl says:

      @full.tang.halo:

      Exactly! People in NYC are just calling it “The New Shea” anyway.

      And if it’s named “Citi Field”, they’ll still call it “Citi Taxpayer’s Field”.

    • HawkWolf says:

      @full.tang.halo: Pine Knob Ampitheatre (or Pine Knob Whatever It Reall Was) got renamed to “DTE Energy Music Theatre”. Whenever I’d say, “oh, are they at Pine Knob this weekend,” some friend would say, “NOOOO it’s DTE now!” Noooo, it’s Pine Knob and DTE are money grubbing goofballs.

      Same with the State Theater in downtown Detroit becoming “The Fillmore East”. The Fillmore East? That’s like “The Statue of Liberty West”.

    • varro says:

      @full.tang.halo: Stadium naming didn’t save Enron or Adelphia from themselves…

    • Vhalkyrie says:

      @full.tang.halo: They tried that with Mile High Stadium too. Screw em. It’s always going to be Mile High Stadium. I don’t care who paid to put their name on the building, and it certainly doesn’t persuade me to do business with them. Just the opposite, actually.

  29. varro says:

    People complain about “welfare queens buying Cadillacs”, yet don’t make a fuss over welfare emperors naming stadiums, buying out college football coaches’ contracts, and giving executives bonuses?

    WTF is wrong with this picture? Give Treasury equity and the power to appoint members of the Board of Directors. No more executive board circle jerking.

  30. Sam Wille says:

    In light of everything that is wrong with the economy, should it really surprise anyone that Citi was foolish enough to consider moving forward with this ‘purchase’? I think it is in poor taste that all of those involved haven’t already met to discuss issuing a short memo indicating their intent to withdraw from securing the naming rights of the new stadium.

    Let another company, one that has that sort of cash to toss around, step in and purchasing the naming rights. Lets not forget that they, too, will be subjected to all sorts of criticism when they begin to falter in this economy as well. $400 million for naming rights? Does this sort of deal really pay off in the end?

  31. Pylon83 says:

    What about the people on the other end of this deal? When they signed the papers with Citi years ago, they started construction expecting $400mm from Citi to defray the costs. Now the Government wants them to break a legally binding contract because they disagree with a business decision that was made a few years ago. It’s not like Citi struck this deal last week. Companies need to advertise to stay in business, that’s what Citi is doing here. The fact they took bailout money shouldn’t mean they are no longer allowed to pursue marketing opportunities, and it surely should force them to break contracts. The Senators are way out of line insisting that Citi back out of a deal that’s already been made.

  32. Trencher93 says:

    But, if Citi doesn’t sponsor the Mets, we’ll just have to bail them out with TARP money, too, so what’s the difference?

  33. nybiker says:

    I’ve made this comment before, but I’ve been against naming rights for years. My friends tell me so what if the Rose Bowl is being presented by Citi. Or if Tostitos paid for the name of their bowl game? Yeah, right, it doesn’t matter. I don’t buy any products that waste their money on naming rights. That means no heinz products. No eating at outback.

    I know it’s tough to avoid them, but I do the best I can.

    I have never understood the concept of naming rights. Does Citi think I’d switch to them just because they named the field or presented the Rose Bowl? How stupid / gullible do they think we are (dear readers: please don’t answer that, I already know the answer).

    Does ING think I’ll bank with them because they got into bed with the NY Road Runners club to name the NYC Marathon?

    To me, I think naming rights ought to be legal only in Nevada where prostitution is legal. Let’s face it, the selling and buying of naming rights is the same thing.

    • xthexlanternx says:

      @nybiker:

      If it didn’t help, I’m sure people wouldn’t do it. If it doesn’t bother you, then why do you care? Let the people make their money (the clubs are making money from the advertiser and the advertiser makes money from new business). Is it really that big of a deal?

      • nybiker says:

        @xthexlanternx: Actually, it does bother me. Why do college football players have to wear the john’s name on their uniform in a bowl game, but they can’t get any money for playing? (I’m not talking millions, but, for lack of a better word, stipends). That’s just one argument for the ‘no naming rights’ rule.

  34. sublicon says:

    Sorry, but it’s a $20 milllion per year deal. You have to spend money to make money, I don’t think they should break this deal.

    They don’t just arbitrarily name stadiums after a bank, the entire point is marketing the Citigroup brand and gathering up more business. The idea is that they will get a return of MORE than $20 million a year through doing this.

    I like how the purpose of business and marketing investments are totally lost on the masses, including our lawmakers.

    • Ash78 ain't got time to bleed says:

      @sublicon: Marketing returns are hardest to track of all dollars spent. This is especially tough when you’re talking about a century-old brand that 99% of people already know. It’s sort of like marketing “Beef” or “Coke”–it’s nice to stay in top-of-mind awareness, but I don’t think they’re going to get much return from it. Especially when stories like this come out.

      But your point is still well taken.

    • Rhayader says:

      @sublicon: I agree. Citi (and all other companies who name stadiums) are doing this because they think it will make money. Are we starting a trend now where the government can tell companies how they should be making money?

      There is a difference between frivolous perks and business expenses, folks.

  35. B says:

    My gut answer is no, but my more reasoned answer would be it depends on the ROI of the deal. There must be some marketing benefits to buying the naming rights to a stadium, or else corporations wouldn’t agree, right? Right? There has to be more than just the egos of the executives that go into these kind of deals, but I’m sure that’s part of it. I think Citi should renegotiate, and offer the Mets $100-200 mil for the naming rights. That is, if the publicity is worth it. Of course, with the negative pub Citi’s getting out of the deal, it’s most likely not worth it anymore.

    • legwork says:

      @B: Your point sticks a pin in the back of those suggesting that they need this as a normal form of marketing. The calculation on return changed wildly once they accepted TARP funds, and it changed most in the minds of the masses.

      Anyway, stadium naming is viewed internally as a status item and source of perks more than usual mass marketing.

  36. donovanr says:

    I love this whole “the tax-payer pile of money is different than the private jet, and bonus money”.
    They only have one bottom line. If the company doesn’t spend this money then there is 400 million that they can deduct from the money they need from the government. So yes it is all the same money.

  37. Darklighter says:

    Where’s my “Yes, Citi signed a contract and pulling out would be incredibly costly to the Mets and the City of New York” option?

  38. bohemian says:

    This is what ticked me off about the bail out. They were in such a rush to get it done nobody wanted to put any rules on it. Instead we were told that would be done later by an oversight board that Bush never appointed anyone to.

    • ekthesy says:

      @bohemian:

      I’m thinking now that it was just one last big money grab by the corporatist wing of the Republican party before Bush left office. There was so little forethought or oversight that it’s more likely that it was done by crook rather than hook.

  39. warmsox says:

    The reactions here over this deal are somewhat ludicrous.

    Look, Citi entered into this deal THREE YEARS AGO, it’s not like they did it just now.

    The other thing to look at is that Citi is a local company to the Mets, their headquarters are in Queens.

    And finally, $20 million a year for 20 years is a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the expenses, not to mention that by year 5 of this deal they will probably be profitable again and getting out from under the bailout money so the taxpayer part is significantly less than the $400 mil.

    So who gives a fuck? Just cut an exec’s bonus by that much and it’s paid for.

    Not to mention that they are in a binding contract and to back out of it will cost them a significant percentage of the $400 million up front and immediately.

    Quite frankly I’m growing tired of gross overreactions to these kinds of things.

  40. lightaugust says:

    And here we are, 37 comments in and no one has tied this to the Mets performance the last two years?

    These two are a match made in baseball heaven.

  41. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    The Answer is simple

    CitiBank=Fail
    Mets=Super Fail

    “Super Citi Mega Fail Stadium”

  42. t0ph says:

    I feel like unless another company buys the naming rights, then we will still pick up the bill in other forms – higher ticket prices, concessions etc…

    P.S. – when I say we, I mean longtime and oft-disappointed Met fans *sigh*

    Not that I can really afford tickets to a baseball game anytime soon :(

    • nybiker says:

      @PerpetualBoredom: Until the strike of 1994, I was one of those longtime and oft-disappointed fans. At that point, I said the hell with you all and stopped caring (my agita went away shortly thereafter).

      Now, if everyone stopped going to games, (and buying souvenirs and uniform replicas and other such items), maybe the management will learn (I know – it’s a lot to expect from them all).

      One could just read about it online afterwards and catch the clips on various sports sites. Just think, no more traffic headaches to and from the stadium. No more having to wait for the #7 train to go home. And with all the road traffic gone, the environment will be better off as well. Of course, these suggestions just don’t apply to the Mets and Shitty Field, no, they are easily applicable to just about all the sports. But I know that people still want the experience of attending a game with the friends. So these changes won’t happen so soon.

  43. mad3air says:

    It’s not the same funds…I mean if I have a basket of 10 apples and I take 3 out, there’s still 10 apples in there. Right? RIGHT???

  44. xthexlanternx says:

    It’s called advertising and it costs money. Corporations need to advertise to get business. How they spend their money is their business. Maybe you should be upset at the Congressmen and Senators who gave them a blank check instead of the people who are working hard to get their bank back on the right track. Most of you people are blindly mad, and I don’t really get it (but then again, I don’t have any major loans outstanding and my job is 100% secure so I’m not really in a pissy mood).

    • tc4b says:

      @xthexlanternx: “How they spend their money is their business.”

      Right, and how they spend MY money is MY business.

      “Maybe you should be upset at the Congressmen and Senators who gave them a blank check…”

      I am.

      “…the people who are working hard to get their bank back on the right track.”

      By paying 400m to name a stadium the Mets play in? Get off the pipe.

  45. FlyersFan says:

    If I was Citi I would keep as much distance as possible between myself and the NY Mets. Everyone knows the Mets bail out of the playoff race every September. Who needs the reminder of a bail out every year?

  46. FunkmasterC says:

    It’s an advertising expense. The size of New York and the financial importance of the city alone are reason enough to be advertising in the city. There’s also the nation-wide attention their company will get. In tough times, I believe you need to keep on marketing and encouraging sales…not hide in the turtle shell.

    The only problem I foresee is people not even naming it Citifield and just sticking to Shea Stadium. In Toronto, people still call it SkyDome.

    • nybiker says:

      @FunkmasterC: One other item that’s named after William Shea ([en.wikipedia.org]) besides the stadium is the subway stop. It’s called Willets Point-Shea Stadium. If the MTA just drops the Shea Stadium part of the name, that’s ok (in context of what’s there). But what if they then put up the citi name? That means we now have a corporate-named subway stop. If they do it, how much will citi pay for the name? Signs at the station directing one to the stadium is one thing; making the conductors say “Willets Point – Citi Field” is another. And of course our printed maps would have to get done to reflect the new stop’s name. Yes, they would also have to be changed if the Shea name is removed, but there would be less urgency to do it (you could do it when other changes take effect – like if the state doesn’t come through with funding and service is cut through the bone).

  47. silver-spork says:

    Citi needs to be put in the direct oversight of the government. Replace the current CEO with a tightfisted federal beancounter.

  48. Krowa003 says:

    I hope the naming rights deal gets dissolved. I never liked Citi’s name on the new stadium anyway. The old stadium, Shea was named after someone significant, so why couldn’t the new stadioum be named is similar fashion?

  49. sleze69 says:

    This reminds me of when my old roomate borrowed rent money from my other roomate. 2 weeks later he bought a new computer and said he needed it for work stuff. The debt wasn’t repaid for 3 months.

  50. maines19 says:

    They made a (stupid) deal and if they don’t pay for it, somebody else will have to. That being said, it does deliver the wrong message, and they’ve already gotten nothing but bad press out of it (Citi makes another bad investment!). The smart thing would have been to announce that in light of their current situation, Citi is seeking another company to take over this deal–and then go find somebody who is still solvent enough to pay $400 mil. But if they’d been smart, they wouldn’t be in this situation.

  51. suburbancowboy says:

    This would be like if I have a 20 dollar bill in my wallet, and I ask a friend to borrow 20 bucks so I can eat lunch. Then I take the 20 that was in my wallet and buy alcohol with it, and I tell my friend that he can’t be pissed at me because I didn’t use HIS 20 for alcohol.

  52. Jnetty says:

    I don’t know where to stand on this. I’ live in New York, I’m a Mets fan, and also a Citibank Costumer.

    I’m not happy if Citibank uses the bailout money for paying for Citi field and not happy that they fired 50,000 of their employees.

    If Citi drops the Mets, then the Mets have to figure out on getting the money and a sponsor. So the money will come from the city or they will raise ticket prices and come on they don’t deserve higher ticket prices when A) they sucked for the last two season and B) the economy is crappy. So either way the consumer and tax payer will still get hit for public funds.

    I also wonder how much it will cost the Mets to change all the signs and stickers for “Citi”.

    Also the Citi deal is for 20 years, I hope Citibank didn’t pay the 400 million up front, so 20 million dollars at the moment is really chump change I think.

    Again I don’t know, it’s hard to say what they should do.

  53. ZukeZuke says:

    DAMMIT!

    This is exactly why I was against The Bailout to begin with. These guys aren’t changing their ways and are now wasting taxpayer’s money, not just their own.

    We’re hearing some new outrageous story like this weekly now. Don’t legislators get it? Oh right, we’re also paying for the banks’ lobbyists too…

  54. smartmuffin says:

    I love how everyone’s reaction is to villianize Citibank for continuing to operate their business under normal parameters (which includes advertising), rather than get mad at the federal government. You know, the ones who actually GAVE them our money without our consent in the first place. Apparently they were paying enough attention to go the populist route and impose limits on executive bonuses, but unless there’s anything in the bailout deal that says “not to be used for advertising” then Citi is doing nothing wrong.

    Well, other than being incompetent and needing the bailout money in the first place, but that ship has long since sailed.

  55. your new nemesis says:

    $400 million is a lot to spend. I am not so sure of Citi’s credit line stats, but that money could be spent to absorb some of the negative debt of its customers, or lower interest rates, allowing them to keep their houses, food on the table, and clothes on their back. This spending for advertising, which really would affect a limited group (baseball fans, Mets fans, and a few more residual) is obnoxious and unwarranted. They advertise TV and some other venues, why is that not ok?

  56. coren says:

    Hey, cool, now instead of just New Yorkers paying taxes to get a new ballpark we all do!

  57. dwarf74 says:

    Money is fungible.

    It’s a dumb evasion to assert that no taxpayer money is being used for this purchase. If you get more money in one area, it frees up money in another area.

    So yes, if Citibank has received taxpayer money, it is most definitely being used to name the stadium, even if the money has cascaded through several accounts to get there.

    • nybiker says:

      @dwarf74: You are correct. That’s why we all wonder why education funding didn’t go up after the lottery kicked in. “The lottery is going to fund education” was the reason for it. So, normal people say, great, we get MORE money for education. No, say the politicians. It just means that lottery revenue goes into the general fund and education still gets what’s coming to it and not a penny more. So much for any “lockbox” concept. We know how secure those things are.

  58. William T. Sprague Jr. says:

    i want Shea back, it was a nice stadium and the first place i saw a professional game :( now it’s another corporate stadium

  59. econobiker says:

    Ir it could be known as “TARP Field”

  60. DerangedRoleModel says:

    Met Life should buy the naming rights from Citibank.

  61. AgentTuttle says:

    I honestly think they are trying to see what it takes to start a riot.

  62. kwsventures says:

    Not a good sign for the future of Citigroup. The Astros used to play at Enron Field. The Titans played at Adelphia Stadium. There have been a few others, too. But, I don’t expect Citigroup to survive as currently structured anyway. The stadium name seals that deal. Like I said months ago, giving taxpayer funded welfare bailout money to any company is a major error. Nothing good will come from it. Just more roaches come with their tin cups looking for taxpayer welfare money.

  63. EBounding says:

    I wish just half of the outrage towards all the planes and stadiums that these companies are spending on would be directed at the government that gave them the money in the first place.

    • tc4b says:

      @EBounding: What makes you think it isn’t? People are pissed at the no-strings-attached nature of TARP. This article just happens to be about naming a stadium.

  64. BrandiLagnarok says:

    Guys, the poll was skewed. Yes, as 95% of respondents point out, it’s unfair for the rest of us to subsidize Citi’s ego. OTOH, if what we are subsidizing is their continued operation as a viable entity, then let’s be honest: It’s a marketing decision: $20 Million per year for a lot of exposure.

    Is that high? I don’t know, but neither do you. I don’t see anyone arguing with the idea that they need to continue running commercials or taking out ads; this is just more of that. The deal should stay in place.

    Jeff Yablon
    Virtual VIP

  65. Blueskylaw says:

    What would have happened to the deal if Citibank went bankrupt? That’s right, there would be no deal.

    Taxpayers own the stadium name now and I don’t think they are eager to be spending any money that is absolutely not necessary.

  66. vladthepaler says:

    Look, people. Your elected representatives voted to give a ton of money to companies that need it BECAUSE they make irresponsible financial decisions. Did you expect the banks to be more responsible with free taxpayer bailout money than they were with their own money? Don’t be ridiculous. If you didn’t want the banks to waste your money, you should have given your money to someone who could spend it responsibly.

  67. Anonymous says:

    In reality this is about $20 million a year for 20 years. Taxpayers aren’t paying $400 million for this. It’s really a small fraction of Citi’s expenses for the year.

  68. Ffb Craig says:

    In reality this is only $20 million a year which is a small fraction of Citi’s expenses.

  69. Michelle Naranjo says:

    It could be called Unemployment Field and be the pride of the non-working now that CitiBank’s Citi Prepaid is now in charge of the debit cards being used by several state unemployment agencies to pay benefits to claimants.

    Imagine the $ saved by the states for not having to pay for stamps, the trees that will be preserved and the email addresses and home addresses of potential credit card applicants who will all qualify for super high interest rates!

  70. DeafChick says:

    How about using some of that money to forgive my student loans?

    FAIL

  71. FMulder says:

    Along with giving the money, surely the Citi execs and their families would get VIP access (suites, etc.) at the new stadium.

    No, and No.

  72. rorschachex says:

    Last I checked, taxpayer money = taxpayer money. The stadium is still partly financed by taxpayer money. Granted, it shouldn’t bear the name ‘Citi Field,’ but whatever Citi doesn’t pay for the stadium, I’m sure it’ll come out of taxpayer coffers, like it always does.
    This sucks, at least in the USSR, they knew it was Communism…

  73. Pan_theFrog says:

    If I have $100 in my pocket, but need $200 to pay the rent, and I borrow $200 from you and use that to pay the rent, and the money in my pocket goes for $100 of crack then I didn’t use the money you loaned me to buy any crack now did I? And it means I could afford to buy $100 of crack with out borrowing anything from you.

    Citi Bank is using this same logic.

  74. 3drage says:

    I notice they had no problem charging me $36 because my payment was received late due to a mail holiday. What a punch of vampires.

  75. suburbancowboy says:

    I’m opposed to corporate naming of any venues. I shouldn’t have to give free advertising to a corporation to tell people where I am going to a concert or game.

    I still call the WAMU theater at MSG the Felt Forum. The Felt Forum changed its name to the Paramount theater, and then to the ‘Theater at Madison Square Garden” now it is the WaMu theater.

    Jones Beach ampitheater changed its name to “Tommy Hilfiger at Jones Beach”. Now it is “Nikon at Jones Beach Theater” That doesn’t even make sense. “The Nikon Theater at Jones Beach” would make sense in English. If I see a sign that says Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, I should see a big camera sitting there.

  76. razremytuxbuddy says:

    When a family member lost his job, I loaned him money for his house and car payment. Later that month, he and his wife took their 4 kids on a trip from the Midwest to Baltimore for a family wedding. Their explanation to me: Someone else in the family loaned them money to make the trip.

    My conclusion: This family member could have been CEO of Citibank.

  77. XianZhuXuande says:

    Why is it that some of these credit and banking associated stories are being reported with an undue salacious spin? Folks, do yourself a service and double-check your reading on Consumerist, as it relates to these subjects, with the real news articles from which they are sourced.

    Citi explores breaking Mets deal

    The $400 million stadium interest is older news-the current news is that they’re ‘exploring options to break out of the deal’. Probably not out of a genuine love for us tax payers, of course, but it is good to know the real story.

  78. Since85 says:

    As a Mets fan, I wish they’d name it something a little better, like Stengal Stadium or Seaver Field.

  79. Andrew says:

    The contract for the naming rights was signed well before the economy tanked and the subsequent bailout. I fail to see how this is an issue.

  80. Anonymous says:

    Not only tax payers are being nailed by Citigroup but also their long time customers that have faithfully paid on time. I recently opened by credit card bill and noticed they increased the rate by 7 percentage points. The bill is not late, it is way under the limit, in fact I don’t even use it anymore, just have been paying it off. I called them and their excuse was that because they have experienced so much credit card default lately they were having to increase interest rates. So I guess they expect the customers that pay their bills to cover their bad business decisions in offering credit to those that end up defaulting, and to cover the CEO bonuses and now the $400MM stadium name….NICE CITIGROUP….REAL NICE

  81. William Gu says:

    That survey is so skewed, it’s pathetic. Nice way to phrase it.

  82. PLATTWORX says:

    How can any bank prove the bailout money did or did not go for something it shouldn’t? They can claim anything.

  83. Meathamper says:

    I don’t mind. It gives Citi an indentity that build on after this whole economy when down the crapper.

  84. Anonymous says:

    Interesting, I just wrote about how important it is to have crystal clear contracts so you don’t open yourself up to disputes later: Kitchen Confidential: Contract Inspirations Courtesy of Anthony Bourdain and Daniel Boulud (http://www.whichdraft.com/wp/?p=23). This would be the reverse situation, where you have buyer’s remorse and wish you had a poorly written contract leaving a loophole or interpretation that would allow you to terminate early without penalty.

  85. Foneguy says:

    Did I say no? Sorry, I meant HELL NO! I am now totally convinced that American executive leadership is totally and completely out of touch with not only their own customers, but most Americans in general. What kind of an idiot would spend money on this when your are running a failing company to begin with. American executives have no loyalty to America or their employees or customers, only to enhancing their own bottom line the quickest way possible. If that means ruining good companies and peoples lives, then so be it. Damn the torpedoes, golden parachute ahead. Bastards.

  86. ZManGT says:

    As much as I’m against this we aren’t getting the full story from Consumerist.

    The problem is the contract is signed and is a legal and binding contract. Citi most likely can’t cancel it, and even if they did they would owe the Mets 20 million dollars a year over the next 20 years. Also the new stadium was built with this 400 million dollars, so if Citi pulls out who now pays for the stadium? Tax payers?

  87. Dawn McDaniel says:

    Here’s a thought. Cut the athletes pay and call the damn stadium the Mets Stadium and be done.

    Everyone else is getting laid off and having to take pay cuts and benefit cuts, work extra jobs.

    Are they really going to feel the pain if they get a couple million less a year?

    This bailout biz is crap anyway.

  88. Dawn McDaniel says:

    Field…sorry!