November 22nd, 2006

Are Naming Rights New Graffiti in N.Y.?

San Diego Union-Tribune

Transit officials hope to profit from the record-breaking sale of naming rights for the New York Mets’ new ballpark by offering to change the names of nearby stations.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials plan to negotiate with Citigroup, which is reportedly paying an average of more than $20 million annually to name the Queens stadium Citi Field, spokesman Tom Kelly told the Daily News.

Two stations carry the name of the current arena, Shea Stadium. One is a stop on the Long Island Rail Road; the other is on the No. 7 subway line.

MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow had previously ruled out renaming landmarks such as Grand Central Terminal, but board member Mitchell Pally said the move was a reasonable step to prevent fare increases.

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, argued that sales of naming rights could go too far.

“What’s next? Will we give riders directions to take the Bayer Aspirin IRT to Walt Disney’s Times Square and then switch to the McDonald’s 7 line to the Citigroup stop in Queens – which also happens to be the stop for the Mets stadium?” he asked.

The new $800 million stadium is being built next to its predecessor. The 45,000-seat ballpark is to open in 2009. 

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