PNC Bank ($7.7 billion in TARP funds pledged) is locked in a 20-year, $30 million deal to keep the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates named "PNC Park." A spokesman there said the bank did not use TARP funds to make payments on the deal.
J.P. Morgan Chase ($25 billion from TARP) has a 30-year, $66 million contract for the Arizona Diamondbacks to call their stadium "Chase Field." "That was an agreement that was signed 11 years ago," by a bank that was bought by Chase, said bank spokesman Tom Kelley. "Tell me what 2008 has to do with 1997? That's a contractual obligation."
Comerica ($2.3 billion in TARP funds pledged) has an identical deal with the Detroit Tigers to refer to their home field as "Comerica Park." Both expire in 2028. "From our perspective, they're not connected," said Comerica's Wayne Mielke of the stadium deal and the bank's anticipated receipt of bailout funds. "Why should it be reviewed?" The cost of the naming rights, said Mielke, "does not inhibit our ability to lend."
Capital One – famous for their tagline, "What's in your wallet?" and a recipient of $2.3 billion in TARP money – are the proud and paying sponsor of the Capital One Bowl, formerly known as the Florida Citrus Bowl. The bank did not respond to requests for comment.
So why play ball with these asshole companies? I know why the corporations are still at it--the last positive thought anyone might have of AIG is going to be Ronaldo slotting some incredible set-piece game winning goal. What's in it for Manchester United? The Mets? The Tigers? Why don't they cancel these deals?
Look at the Diamondbacks--they are getting $2 million a year--that's enough to sign Chris Snyder, a catcher who hit .237 who was good for almost a strikeout a game. The Pittsburgh Pirates are getting $1.5 million a year--good enough to sign a solid reliever in John Grabow on a team that had much, much bigger issues.
So why bother? It is because MLB owners pale at the thought of having their stadiums clearly named by the highest bidder? Would they rather their corporate relationship appear to continue on, ad infinitum? This money doesn't seem to do anyone any good.
Again, GM has cancelled their deal with Tiger Woods, even though (or because) they haven't received any money from The American Taxpayer. Seems to me a lot of companies that should be following their example are not only not following their example, they are aggressively demanding that they should not have to. I assume as a new partial owner of these companies, I'll get a vote. But I'm not holding my breath.