Citi Field: The future ain’t what it used to be
Things change, as baseball legend and sometime New York Mets player-coach Yogi Berra had his own inimitable way of saying. Some people prefer the future the way “it used to be” – and right now it’s the renaming of the Mets stadium that is upsetting fans.
The baseball team announced in November that its new stadium will adopt the name Citi Field, rather than retain the original name, Shea Stadium, following a $400 million investment by Citigroup.
According to sources, the Mets’ principal owner, Fred Wilpon, has a long-standing relationship with Citigroup’s private bank. The 20-year sponsorship deal for the 45,000-seat ballpark being built next to Shea Stadium in Queens, New York City, will be worth at least $20 million a year, setting a record for US stadium rights.
Some fans have been vocal in wanting to keep the name Shea, which they say epitomizes the team’s history. The Mets stadium was named Shea Stadium in 1964 after lawyer William Shea, who helped bring National League baseball back to New York after two local teams left. But not everyone is upset about the decision. One Wall Street Mets fan says: “It’s a sign of the times that stadiums are named after the corporations that sponsor them. I couldn’t care less what they call it. Citigroup is paying for half of the stadium, and that means more money to be spent on buying players.”
With that money, the Mets might make it to the World Series. This year the team narrowly missed out when they lost to the Detroit Tigers in the semi-final series. Other sports stadiums named after corporations include Phoenix’s Bank One Ballpark. And let’s not forget Houston’s Minute Maid Park, which was once called Enron Field. Berra, with his usual impeccable logic, once said: “If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.” But if they do want to see the game, a stadium name change isn’t going to stop them either.