The stadium-naming deal? Make Citigroup and the New York Mets bail the public out for a change.

The stadium-naming deal? Make Citigroup and the New York Mets bail the public out for a change.

In what's obviously a P.R. move, Citigroup says it's looking into pulling out of a $400 million marketing deal with the New York Mets.

Here's the current situation: Citigroup is supposedly on the hook to pay $400 million to the Mets for the naming rights to the unwarranted new stadium. Meanwhile, Citigroup, which has reported $28.5 billion in net losses since 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal, received a $45 billion bailout last fall from Henry Paulson's Wall Street giveaway TARP program.

Here's a better idea: Make the bank stay in the ill-fated scheme it can no longer afford, but force it pay the $400 million to the public — not the Mets — to help offset the billions in bailout money the public's already given the bank.

You're going to point out that the Mets would howl at having to give up that $400 million? Of course, but the team should have no reason to bitch. As my indefatigable stadium-expert colleague and Field of Schemes author Neil deMause pointed out January 14 on Runnin' Scared, the public's paying for $371.5 million of the new stadium.

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So make the team give us back our money.

Of course, neither the team nor Citigroup will reimburse us. But it doesn't hurt to suggest it.

And don't think it's cynical to call this Citigroup maneuver to supposedly try to pull out of the naming deal a P.R. move. This morning's Journal story starts off with the idea that the bank is "eager to quell the controversy over how lenders are using government bailout money." The story adds:

In a statement Monday, Citigroup said that "no TARP capital will be used" for the stadium -- referring to government funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But as it revisits the pact, Citigroup is essentially acknowledging that the volatile political climate could make it untenable for the bank to proceed with the deal.

Such liars the bank officials are. Technically they wouldn't be directly transferring TARP money to the Mets to pay for the stadium rights, but so what? Same public funds, different pocket.

Meanwhile, what a shrewd marketing move for the Mets: Name your team after the bank that's laying off thousands of people and getting bailed out by taxpayers who are so beleaguered that they can't even afford tickets to the games.

Speaking of naming rights that didn't cost us anything (at least for the names): Paulson's top aide at handing out the bailout money, Neel Kashkari, and the scamster named Bernie who made off with billions of other people's money.

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