Citigroup Ballpark Naming Deal Denounced

This file photo of Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 was taken at the New York Mets' new stadium with a Citi Field logo on prominent display
AP Photo
Citigroup received billions of dollars in federal bailout money this winter.

But, in 2006, the bank entered into an agreement to pay the New York Mets$400 million dollars over 20 years for naming rights to the team's new stadium. The ballpark is almost finished.

But, reports CBS News correspondent Priya David, Citi Field isn't generating the kind of publicity the bank had hoped for.

It was just last week that Citigroup gave in to public pressure and gave up a new corporate jet.

This week, the bank is again taking heat, this time for the naming deal.

"They just act as though the taxpayers' money is free money, and they can spend it any way they want. Well, no they can't," says Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D, Ohio), who adds that taxpayers have the right to be upset.

"Their money is going for these banks that are just doing anything they want with it," Kucinich says. "Well, that's not right, and they have to be called on it."

Up until fairly recently, David points out, a bank's name on a stadium was positive public relations. But now, many see such accords as examples of wasteful spending, particularly if that bank's been bailed out with taxpayer money.

"(Citigroup) wants eyeballs," notes Forbes magazine Executive Editor Melanie Wells. "They want good will. But right now, there's a lot of bad will, because of their plans to name the stadium."

Citigroup isn't the only company with or seeking bailout money while paying to have its name on a stadium, David notes. "There's also Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, and General Motors Stadium in Vancouver, Canada.

"More companies," Wells observes, "are going to have to look at their image and how they're promoting themselves and how much they're spending doing it.

Citigroup is reportedly considering whether to back out of the stadium deal.

If they don't, Kucinich has a suggestion for them: "Maybe it should be called U.S. Taxpayers' Stadium."