What To Do When You’ve Got $400 Million Laying Around

Why not blow it all on naming rights for the NY Mets ballpark?

That’s what Citibank is doing. $20 million a year for 20 years.

That’s $400 million. For a sponsorship.

Think about it. 95% of all credit unions in America don’t even have that much in assets.

Citibank’s annual marketing budget is only $500 million (you’re saying “Onllllyy…”). They’ll be pumping 4% of it into the name of one ballpark in one market. And we aren’t even talking about the Yankees here. We’re talking about the Mets.

Alas, if Citibank knew then what it knows now.

You see, it was back in November 2006 when they signed the deal, and they had just ended their third quarter with net income of $5.3 billion. Yes, that’s with a “B.” Billion.

But those were the subprime days…

According to the NY Times, Citibank has lost $17 billion (again, with a B) in the last nine months – including a $2.5 billion loss last Friday.

During that time, the company has cut about 28,000 jobs. Backing out of this deal could have saved how many jobs?

But Citibank isn’t flinching. A Citi spokesman says they remain “strongly committed” to the sponsorship. Dave Howard, the Mets EVP/Ops, backs that up, saying that Citi hasn’t expressed any jitters.

Relatively Speaking: Too bad the Oakland Athletics couldn’t get $400 million from Cisco for the naming rights for their new ballbark. If they had got a $400 million sponsorship deal for Cisco Field (scheduled to open in 2012), that sucker would be paid for. That’s what the whole stadium cost. Instead, the Athletics got a $120 million – meager by comparison – in a deal worth $4 million a year for 30 years. That’s one-fifth of what Citi paid.

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