11.22.08

“Fred & Jeff’s Baseball Hut” Has Quite A Ring To It

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 9:04 pm by

Shitty times for the U.S. economy and Citibank in particular have put a $400 million naming rights deal for the New York Mets’ glittering monument to avarice & greed new stadium in jeopardy, writes the New York Post’s Kate Sheehy.

Mets rep Jay Horwitz yesterday insisted, “There is no change in regard to Citi’s commitment to the new ballpark.” But David Howard, the team’s vice president of business affairs and main spokesman on the deal, for the first time deflected all questions back to Citigroup.

And the future doesn’t look good for the financial giant.

Citigroup’s stock woes are making it ripe for a takeover, and Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, HSBC and State Street Bank are already being talked about as potential buyers or merger partners.

The onetime banking titan closed at $3.77 yesterday, down 89 percent in the past year.

If Citigroup is bought out, at least the stadium name would presumably change. Still, mega-bucks would in all likelihood be shelled out by the new company for the naming rights because of the prestige and recognition that such a high-profile stadium will bring, experts said. Think “Goldman Sachs Diamond,” “Morgan Stanley Stadium” or “HSBC Field.”

Bleacher Report’s Tab Bamford is less concerned about the ballpark’s name compared to the fiscal insanity of a struggling firm dropping $20 million on a marketing exercise, pleading with the Wilpons to “perform their own bailout package.”

Citicorp recently announced that, because of sagging profits, they will be relieving approximately 53,000 of their jobs. And yet their name will stay on a stadium that only seats 45,000. Does anyone else see the irony in that statement? A brand new major league baseball stadium seats fewer people than the sponsor plans to fire because the company can’t afford their salaries any more?

Citi is contracted to pay $20 million annually for the next 20 years to have their pretty logo on the marquee of the stadium.

My question: Could that $20 million save some, if not all, of those 53,000 jobs?

My response: I am calling on the New York Mets to provide ethics by force to Citicorp. Do not take their $20 million. Hand them their check back and implore them to do the right thing by keeping as many of those 53,000 people on board as they can. I am sure that there are dozens of companies that are financially sound enough to afford that size a contract to have their logo on the only corporately sponsored major stadium in New York.

6 Responses to ““Fred & Jeff’s Baseball Hut” Has Quite A Ring To It”

  1. JB says:

    Yes, Tab, each of those 53,000 people earn approximately $377 per year. It’s bad PR to be sure, but honestly $20 million for stadium naming rights is a drop in the bucket when looking at the scope of the problems Citi is facing.

  2. WeWanttheFunk says:

    Consicdering the fact that many of those 53,000 people are likely responsible for Citi being where it is today, I’m having a tough time finding my kleenex.

    Re: the layoffs, The ever insightful Richard Russell of The Dow Theory Letters inquires: “How are they going to run Citigroup without those 53,000 people? Furthermore, what were they doing in the first place?”

  3. GC says:

    Man, no love for bank tellers around here. Since they were all replaced by ATM’s , anyway. Free autographed pics of George Foster for all laid-off Citi staff, how’s that for a righteous gesture.

  4. Ben Schwartz says:

    We Want the Fun said: “Consicdering the fact that many of those 53,000 people are likely responsible for Citi being where it is today, I’m having a tough time finding my kleenex.”

    Jeez, what did they do, Funk? Steal $306 billion in office supplies? The International Herald Trib tends to blame Shitibank’s management: “Under the agreement, Citigroup and regulators will back up to $306 billion of largely residential and commercial real estate loans and certain other assets, which will remain on the bank’s balance sheet. Citigroup will shoulder losses on the first $29 billion of that portfolio.”

    Let’s see, the gov’t gives them 306b for bad debt, Citi is responsible for 29b, so that leaves over 90% of it to be eaten by the taxpayer. $20 mil would indeed save some jobs, no matter how minimal it is to these numbers.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/24/business/24citibank.php

  5. JB says:

    Ben, I still contend this is just bad PR. Let’s say each of those workers makes $50k including benefits (which probably is much lower than the average salary of the people getting axed here). So that saves 400 jobs out of the 53,000 cited here. For the theoretical 400 people whose lives are impacted, of course it makes a difference, but would the world at large interpret a 52,600 headline that much differently than a 53,000 headline?

    Citi is going to continue to have an advertising budget after this whole bailout mess is sorted out; who’s to say they haven’t eliminated $20 million dollars that were allocated to primetime commercials to make up the difference?

  6. WeWanttheFunk says:

    Ben,

    I don’t purport to know the division of labor at Citi before these folks were shown the door, but it stands to reason that many of them were involved in parts of the banking business that no longer hold water (or jobs). Mortgage lending, securitization of debt, fixed income securities research and managment, etc. I’m also sure that plenty of them are similarly un-likable collateral damage; equity traders who managed positions leveraged against said securitized debt and managers of all of the above.
    I’m doubtful that anyone actually involved in taking deposits from those living paycheck to paycheck, and maintaining Citi’s actual reserve base in the process, or in managing what little money those retail clients have left and have chosen to keep with C, was given a pink-slip. Unilaterally, any former Citibank employee with an actual value to the banking or financial sector will likely land on their feet.
    For the ones that don’t… well… it’s a tough economy.

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