Tags: company | sports | deals

Citi, AIG, Others Getting Public Funds Keeping Outrageous Sports Deals

Wednesday, 26 Nov 2008 10:07 AM

NEW YORK — Major US firms will keep spending hundreds of millions of dollars on sports endorsement deals even as they accept billions of dollars in rescue money from US taxpayers, according to an ABC News report.

The advertising and promotional deals include insurance power AIG, which will receive 150 billion dollars in the federal bailout while spending 125 million dollars for its logo to appear on Manchester United football uniforms.

"They should put 'US Treasury' on the front of their uniforms," said Steve Ellis, a member of US watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense.

An AIG spokesman told the US television network that its deal with England's Manchester United remains firm but AIG is "reviewing all sponsorships to identify any relationship that might be essential."

Citibank, which just accepted a multi-billion-dollar emergency funding deal from the US government and axed 53,000 workers, has a 20-year naming rights deal worth 400 million dollars for the new stadium of baseball's New York Mets.

"This type of spending is indefensible and unacceptable to Citigroup's new partner and largest investor: the American taxpayer," US Representative Elijah Cummings said on Monday.

"I strongly urge Citigroup to find a way out of this contract and instead spend that 400 million dollars on retaining its employees and restoring confidence in its operations."

While no bailout funds might go to sponsorship deals, the appearance of spending big money on such a luxury item while teetering on financial collapse and laying off workers rubs many the wrong way.

Bank of America, receiving 25 billion dollars in federal bailout funding, is in a 20-year deal worth 140 million dollars for naming rights to the home field of American football's Carolina Panthers.

The group is also reportedly set to spend 20 million dollars a year for a sponsorship deal with baseball's New York Yankees.

"Any investments we make in sponsorship marketing are directly linked to driving revenue growth for the bank," Bank of America spokesman Joseph Goode told ABC.

PNC Bank, set for 7.7 billion dollars in US taxpayer relief, has a 20-year deal worth 30 million dollars for naming rights for the home ballpark of baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates.

J.P. Morgan Chase, set for 25 billion dollars from taxpayers, has a 30-year deal worth 66 million dollars for naming rights for the home stadium of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks that was signed 11 years ago.

Comerica, pledged for 2.3 billion dollars in bailout funds, has a naming rights deal with baseball's Detroit Tigers through 2028.

Copyright 2008 Agence France Presse. All Rights Reserved.

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