A group of New York City and Long Island members of Congress ask Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to stay away from the $400-million naming-rights deal.A group of New York City and Long Island members of Congress ask Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to stay away from the $400-million naming-rights deal between Citigroup and the New York Mets for Citi Field.
The six members of Congress argue any move by the U.S. Government would be unnecessarily punative. The issue of the Citigroup naming-rights deal is a very sensitive one right now: Citigroup is one of at least nine banks receiving federal TARP funds and have entered into long-term naming-rights deals for stadiums, ballparks and arenas: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo, US Bank, Huntington Bank, Bank of New York Mellon Corp., PNC Financial Services, M&T Bank Corp. and Comerica.
The issue achieved prominence when Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Ted Poe issued a call for the government to strike the deal, saying it amounted to taxpayer subsidization of naming rights:
“If Citigroup had filed for bankruptcy, rather than receive $45 billion in taxpayer funds from the TARP, the overpriced naming-rights contract would have been terminated,” Kucinich said in a statement. “So TARP, in effect, has propped up the overpriced Citi Field naming-rights deal at a time when Citigroup is also planning to lay off 50,000 employees.”
It’s really a tempest in a teapot: there’s no legal way for the government to order an existing contract be eliminated unilaterally (something the Mets, Citigroup and other baseball officials repeatedly point out), and it sounds like Geithner is pretty much ignoring Kucinich and Poe.
“While we have implemented new restrictions on executive compensation and luxury perks, we will not get involved in individual companies’ marketing decisions,” said Treasury spokesman Isaac Baker.
RELATED STORIES: Citi, Mets affirm naming-rights deal; Kucinich vows fight against all bank deals; Under public pressure, Citigroup reevaluates Mets deal; Congressmen call for end to Citi’s naming-rights deal with Mets