Citi Field: Citi should be pitching, not quitting
Poor Citi. Not even sport can provide the beleaguered bank with an escape route from its woes. Just as RBS is coming under attack in the UK for spending £200 million on sponsorship contracts with top sportsmen such as Sachin Tendulkar, Jack Nicklaus and Sir Jackie Stewart weeks before it got a government bailout, Citi is facing flak for a deal with the New York Mets after receiving $45 billion of taxpayers’ money. US lawmakers have criticized Citi for continuing with a $400 million sponsorship deal for the Mets’ baseball stadium even as the bank’s future continues to be in doubt. Citi and the Mets deny that Citi Field stadium will be funded by government money, although some wags reckon the stadium should be called Fed Field.
Perhaps the detractors are missing the point. Maybe the best way for Citi to start stimulating its businesses is to use its connection with the Mets and its star players, such as Jose Reyes, to attract customers.
That’s exactly what ING did after it became involved with Renault, the Formula One team, though in its case the star attraction was the car rather than the drivers.