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Will Citibank naming-rights deal backfire on Mets?

Some pundits are already calling the new home of the New York Mets "Bailout Field."
This is probably not the publicity the Wilpon family wanted to see as the New York Mets ramped up to their replacement for Shea Stadium: Their biggest financial partner is in the midst of a public debate over the appropriateness of a public bailout at a time Citibank is paying $400 million for naming rights.

Indeed, the debate intensified yesterday, as critics of the bailouts of financial institutions seized on the Citi Field naming-rights deal as everything bad with the system: the New York Mets will, in affect, benefit from the public bailout. And even the CFO of Citibank admitted his firm might not have proceeded with the deal if it had known what was coming down the pike:

“That was a decision made in a different time. We have binding legal agreements," CFO Gary Crittendon had to say about it Monday on CNBC. "I don’t think it’s an issue.”

Still, it’s clear the isse will not go away. And we’re guessing it will linger into the 2009 season — which means the Mets had better be prepared for the inevitable barbs when the new ballpark opens.