The Washington Times - February 3, 2009, 12:52PM

There’s been a lot of speculation that Citiigroup is seeking a way out of its 20-year, $400 million naming rights deal for the Mets new stadium. There is an increasing amount of pressure for the company to get out of the deal, since it is now being propped up by tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars.

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that officials were seeking a way out, but now the two sides claim the rights deal for Citi Field will remain in place.


“In conversations this morning, Citi reinforced that they will honor our legally binding agreement,” the Mets said in a statement to CNBC.

Notice the words “legally binding agreement.” It’s the Mets way of saying “hey, you don’t get to unilaterally decide when to break up this deal.”

From the Mets perspective, it would be preferable if Citibank were to stay on board. With sponsorship spending way down, there’s little chance the team would be able to recoup the $20 million a year it would lose if the company were to walk away. There are instances when it makes sense for a team to break ties with a troubled company, like in the case of Enron and the Houston Astros a few years back. But as long as Citibank is still solvent, the Mets will likely be reluctant to break off the arrangement.