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11/22/08 10:34 AM EST

Mets' stadium naming-rights deal safe

Recession affecting Citigroup but club says pact not in jeopardy

NEW YORK -- Perhaps it would be wise not to become too attached to the name associated with the Mets' new home. What now is Citi Field conceivably could have a different identity even before it opens in April because of the recession. A change would be likely if the once-mighty Citigroup, the value of its stock plummeting, is taken over by another banking institution.

The naming-rights agreement between the Mets and Citi, said to be worth $400 million over 20 years, is not in jeopardy, the Mets say. But they understand a takeover is possible and that a name change probably would follow. As much as the club favors the current name -- it considers it far less corporate-sounding than most of the new names for stadiums and sports arenas, it is much more conscious of the revenue connected to it.

And the deal is not an issue.

"Citigroup's comittment to the Mets and our new ballpark is firm," Mets vice president of media relations Jay Horwitz said Saturday.

The New York Times quoted Steve Silverman, a spokesman for Citi, in its Saturday editions, as saying, "We remain committed to our relationship to the Mets; it is important to us."

The troubled economy and subprime mortgage crisis have undermined Citigroup, prompting a worldwide layoff of 52,000 workers. Its stock is down some 89 percent in one year. The agreement between the Mets and the banking giant has been in effect since 2006.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.