New York Daily News
Call to strike out ‘Citi’
Jumaane: Mets should scrub stadium name over oil investments
Mets-boosting Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is joining a coalition of local environmental activists in calling on the baseball team’s owner to rename Citi Field over climate change concerns.
The Queens ballpark’s name comes from Citibank, which has held a contract with the Mets for the naming rights since 2008. Williams told the Daily News on Friday that Mets owner Steven Cohen should scrap that contract and give the stadium another name because of the bank’s significant investments in the fossil fuel industry.
“New Yorkers know I bleed blue and orange — the Mets represent an incredible spirit, history and institution, and are a tremendous value to New Yorkers,” Williams said. “The practices of Citibank, though, don’t represent the values of the Mets or of our city, and we must demand better. If Citi refuses to end its toxic relationship with the fossil fuel industry, the Mets should end their partnership with Citi.”
Williams, a progressive Democrat, plans to hold a Tuesday press conference in City Hall Park to formally call on Cohen to make the switch. Joining Williams for the event will be representatives from a number of local environmental groups, including New York Communities for Change, Climate Organizing Hub, Climate Families NYC, 350 NYC and Sunrise Movement NYC.
Lucas Sanchez, co-executive director of New York Communities for Change, said he has been a “diehard Mets fan” all his life, but that he’s long struggled with the Citi Field name.
“I can’t teach my kids to love the Mets if I’m also teaching them about climate change,” said Sanchez, whose kids are 7, 9 and 13. “The Mets are contributing to polluting the planet by partnering with Citi.”
Williams did not offer a suggestion for what to call the stadium instead of Citi Field.
Sanchez, though, urged the Mets to dub it Shea Stadium, the name of the Mets ballpark that was demolished in 2009 to make room for Citi Field.
“In my heart, the Mets will always play at Shea Stadium,” he said. “And I think every Met fan would agree with me.”
Reps for the Mets did not return requests for comment last week.
A spokeswoman for Citi argued the bank “recognizes the importance of transitioning to a low-carbon economy,” citing its pledge to invest $1 trillion in green energy and other climate solutions by 2030.
“Our approach reflects the need to transition while also continuing to meet global energy needs,” the spokeswoman, Katie Doshi, said. “We look forward to continuing the strong relationship we have with the Mets and Citi Field.”
According to a data compiled by the climate groups, Citi invested $285 billion with fossil fuel companies between 2016 and 2021, including companies like ExxonMobil, BP and Saudi Aramco. The bank has drawn activists’ ire over its refusal to stop financing new fossil fuel projects.
In the meantime, the Mets have made a killing off the naming rights deal with Citi.
Under the original contract, Citi was supposed to cough up $20 million per year to the Mets for the rights. The contract has a 20-year term, meaning the Mets should rake in a grand total of $400 million by the 2028 expiration.
Though the expiration date is five years away, Williams and the advocates said Cohen should scrap the contract right away.
“We can aim to both win the World Series and protect the world’s climate at the same time,” Williams said.