Nick Cargo and David Edwards November 25, 2008
As worldwide banking conglomerate Citigroup accepts a $306 billion government aid package and prepares to lay off 52,000 workers, it won’t be trimming back a $400 million stadium deal. Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) appeared on CNN Tuesday morning to declare that industry executives need to realize their place as they show up in Washington to beg for taxpayer money.
“Citi remains committed to its relationship with the New York Mets,” the conglomerate’s Vice President of Public Affairs, Luis Rosero, said in a Monday statement. “The sponsorship of Citi Field is an important marketing priority for the company.”
“We’ve got Citigroup coming to the Congress, cashmere hat in hand, begging for money to stay afloat. They got $25 billion a few months ago, [they're] now getting another $20 billion and all kinds of other sweeteners,” said Cummings, senior member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Tuesday. “They come to us saying, ‘Look, Congress. We’re on a respirator. We’re about to die,’ but…they’re adamant about holding on to a deal whereby they can plaster their name on the front of a stadium in New York…I have a problem with that, and my constituents do too.”
Citigroup, Rep. Cummings said, did “very well” for many years without help from stadium naming rights. “Suddenly now they need it? Come on, give me a break.
“And I think the American people are saying ‘give me a break.’ There’s another piece of this that I’m very concerned about, and that is that the…companies lining up, wanting to get government money, while my constituents are losing their jobs, losing their homes, going through difficult times not knowing how they’re going to make it, but…still, they see their tax dollars being used for things like this.”
Citigroup, Cummings added, is hesitating to follow through on earlier promises to help prevent customers’ foreclosures as part of the deal. “They need to understand that this is a new day,” he said. “They’ve got a new owner: the United States government and the citizens of this country.”