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Renewed calls to drop Citi from Field amid bailout – QNS.com

Renewed calls to drop Citi from Field amid bailout

By Jeremy Walsh

A month after two Staten Island elected officials called for the Mets’ new stadium to be renamed “Taxpayer Field,” a pair of congressmen from other states have joined the calls for Citigroup to relinquish its naming rights in an outcry that may prompt the banking giant to back out of the contract.

Citigroup was considering trying to void the $400 million naming deal with the Mets after U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D−Ohio) and Ted Poe (R−Tex.) urged the company to pull out after receiving federal bailout funds over the last few months, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Citigroup is now dependent on the support of the federal government for its survival as an institution,” Kucinich and Poe wrote in a Jan. 28 letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “As such, we do not believe Citigroup ought to spend $400 million to name a stadium at the same time that they accept over $350 billion in taxpayer support and guarantees.”

The congressmen asked Geithner to intervene and force Citigroup to dissolve its agreement or compel it to return all federal funds.

Queens elected officials were hard to reach regarding the announcement. City Councilwoman Helen Sears (D−Jackson Heights) suggested the congressmen might be a little out of their element.

“Given the amount of trouble with their own states’ economies right now, I am a little surprised that Congressman Kucinich and Congressman Poe are looking outside their own state borders, but I guess that just confirms that we really are the most important place in America,” she said in a statement.

Councilman Eric Gioia (D−Sunnyside) called for a detailed audit of Citigroup’s expenditures, warning that the company could have bigger problems than the stadium contract.

“A review of their books should start but not end there,” he said. “This could be a red herring.”

The Mets indicated they have no intention of nullifying the $20−million−a−year contract with the struggling financial powerhouse.

“The Mets are fully committed to our contract with Citi,” a spokesman said Tuesday.

Citigroup secured naming rights for the new stadium in November 2006.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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