Saturday, November 11, 2006
Word today that the New York Mets - not exactly my favorite baseball team for very personal reasons that no Cub fan needs explained - and CitiGroup have reached a longterm, multimillion dollar agreement that includes the naming rights to the Mets' new ballpark, which currently is being built alongside the team's current home, Shea Stadium. Thus, come 2009, the Mets will play in CitiField, a modern facility that is being crafted to resemble the Brooklyn Dodgers' old ballpark, Ebbets Field, at least on the exterior.
All of which is fine and dandy - after all, big money deals for the rights to brand athletic stadia have become de rigeur in recent years. But there had been a budding movement to have the Mets break with modern tradition and name their new place after one of the major icons in baseball history, Jackie Robinson, who played his entire career in Ebbets Field or Brooklyn. (Even the cynical New York Post had endorsed the idea a while back.) It was only a couple of months ago that the United States Tennis Association named its New York facility, where the U.S. Open is played, after Billie Jean King. Much was made of the millions of dollars the USTA walked away from in order to honor a person who was a true pioneer of the game of tennis, on and off the court. And the Mets playing in Jackie Robinson Stadium would have been the ultimate monument to the man who did more to change baseball, and the society in general, than any other player in history, millions be damned.
Of course, they could split the difference and go with Jackie Robinson CitiField, or Jackie Robinson Park at CitiField. But I won't be holding my breath.