The Mets are reportedly going to announce on Monday that their new field, which will open in 2009, will be called "Citi Field", which is because Citibank (or Citigroup) is buying the naming rights. As far as corporate names go, that's actually pretty good. I'm pleased. Could be much worse. It could be one of those company names that people hate, and instead it would be called "The New Shea", or it could be a company that's going to go out of business and the name would have to change again (like a dot-com, or like Enron). Citibank is stable (although banks are prone to takeovers and mergers), and "Citi Field" is pretty cool for a stadium in a city. I'll take it.
Well, I certainly didn't see this coming. Ah, the ignorance of three years ago, when I thought banks were only prone to takeovers or mergers.
Let me start with this - I don't know if I've ever said this before, but I never understood the 'stadium naming rights' practice. Does rooting for the Astros over the Rays mean I am any more likely to drink Minute Maid products rather than Tropicana? Does the fact the Padres play at PETCO Park do anything for anyone except for me, with my little "Where the Mets go" joke? (I swear if someone ever steals that they had better credit me.)
I never understood why a company would throw hundreds of millions of dollars at a team just to have their name on a stadium. Never understood it. And I understand it less now, with a company that is in serious serious financial trouble pretty much wasting $400 million to call the Mets' new stadium Citi Field.
Now, as I re-wrote above - I love the name "Citi Field". It has a good feel to it, for a good city team like the Mets. It also would have been a good corporate name, because unless you really knew what you were dealing with, you didn't really know it as a corporate name. Except now everyone and their brother knows, because Citi, and somewhat by extension the Mets, have become laughingstocks because of this idiotic deal.
Part of me hopes the naming rights are forced to change because of how stupid this whole thing is. But another part of me (probably a bigger part) wants to keep the "Citi". First of all, I named my blog after the new park, for crying out loud. Secondly, if there's anyone else who has kept as close an eye on the birth of Citi Field, I'd like to meet them and shake their hand. And read their blog...that sounds like something I'd love. I just feel an attachment to the park and its name. (With that in mind, I've put a small photo history of Citi Field at the end of this post - click it to enlarge.)
In the end, something else I wrote in November of 2006 might ring even more true: it's a shame these naming rights scenarios even had to come about. And maybe the old fashioned-way of naming stadiums after people was the way to go...or at least, I'll re-offer a suggestion for the naming rights if there has to be a switch:
Some people are saying it's too bad the "Shea" name is going by the boards...I agree, but it's the way of the world right now - hopefully William Shea will be remembered by Mets fans without the stadium bearing his name. And there is one sponsor that would have been better, which Mets fans apparently voted on somewhere - MetLife.