Mets and Citi Deal In Limbo

Eric SalomonContributor IFebruary 3, 2009

Conflicting reports came out this morning about the marketing deal that would give naming rights to the Mets' new stadium to Citigroup. reported that Citi is exploring the possibility of backing out of the 20-year, $400 million deal.  Monday's Wall Street Journal first reported the possibility of the deal being broken.

A statement released by the Mets organization said that Citigroup has promised to honor its contract with the team.  Should the bank decide to back out of the deal, it will likely pay a penalty.  A spokesman for the bank reiterated this commitment.

The deal was signed in 2006, but recent concerns about how financial institutions are spending their bailout money have led to the reconsideration of this deal, according to  Citigroup received $45 billion from the federal government.  The amount of the deal is less than one one- hundredth of the total bailout amount.

Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) both raised concerns to Citi group about how they would be spending their bailout money.

The Mets have been at the center of this economic mess since it was reported that owner Fred Wilpon had invested in Bernard Madoff's hedge fund.  Sterling Equities, the ownership corporation of the Mets, had many investments that were managed by Madoff's firm.  Their relationship with Madoff could have cost them $300 million.

Citi Field is set to open in April as the replacement to Shea Stadium.