Lil Bit Special Posted March 12, 2009 Share Posted March 12, 2009 (edited) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/nyregion/12shea.html?_r=3&ref=sports Citigroup is teetering, with a stock price lower than Johan Santana’s earned run average and a brand synonymous with “bank bailout.” But its name will still grace the Mets’ new ballpark, Citi Field, when the season starts next month. The same cannot be said of the subway station at the ballpark’s doorstep. Officials at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had once hoped that a bit of Citigroup’s $400 million endorsement pact with the Mets might trickle down their way, through a naming rights deal of their own for the station. But those hopes evaporated with the bank’s near-collapse and the Mets’ refusal to share the wealth. So on Tuesday, transit officials informed the Mets that when the subway station (currently named after the team’s former home, the now-demolished Shea Stadium) was rechristened, it would not actually use the name of the new ballpark. Instead, the station, on the No. 7 line, will be called simply Mets/Willets Point. New signs will go up soon replacing the old signs, which say Willets Point/Shea Stadium. The nearby Long Island Rail Road station will be renamed in the same way. “We’re willing, as we have said, to entertain corporate names on stations, but only for a fee,” said Jeremy Soffin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The authority, struggling to close a $1.2 billion budget gap, plans to raise fares and cut service. The Mets, in contrast, will get $20 million a year from Citigroup for 20 years for the stadium deal. That was the context when transit officials met with the Mets over the last few weeks and, according to Mr. Soffin, raised the subject of a naming fee for the station at Citi Field. The Mets said no. Even if the Mets had been willing to make a deal, it would likely have defrayed only a portion of the $40 million in taxpayer money the authority has agreed to spend on renovations to the subway and commuter rail stations in conjunction with the building of Citi Field. Mr. Soffin said $18 million had been spent so far, on refurbishing the platforms, painting the stations, installing new lights and improving wheelchair access. When it was pointed out that the Mets would still get their name on the renovated stations free, Mr. Soffin said that the authority had to give its riders enough information to get to where they want to go. Mr. Soffin said that the authority never gave the Mets a price for the naming and that the talks did not get past the informal stage. He said that the discussions took place with the Mets rather than Citigroup because the authority dealt regularly with the Mets on the station improvements. Other officials have said that once Citigroup began receiving billions of dollars in federal aid it became clear that any money for the station name would have to come from the Mets. Mr. Soffin said that the decision to keep Citigroup’s name off the station had nothing to do with fears over whether the troubled bank would survive. But fans — who have joked about calling the new stadium Taxpayer Field or Debits Field— may think the authority was wise to guard against the future expense of changing signs in the station if the bank goes bust. David Newman, the Mets vice president of marketing, declined to discuss the team’s talks with the authority. Across town, the Yankees will also open a new stadium, but they are keeping the old name. Mr. Soffin said that the names of the 161st Street/Yankee Stadium stations on the B, D and No. 4 lines would not change. A new Metro-North Railroad station at Yankee Stadium, built with $52 million in authority money and $39 million from the city, will have a slightly different name. It will be called Yankees/E. 153rd Street. Edited March 12, 2009 by Lil Bit Special Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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