She's got a ticket to ride and she don't care. ~ The Beatles
When I saw that my Cincinnati Reds were playing the New York Mets at Citi Field, I laughed. It reminded me of a visit to Enron Field in Houston.
Selling naming rights to fallen corporations can embarrass a whole city.
Then, when I looked into the Citi Field situation, my laughter turned to outrage.
Citigroup is paying $400 million ($20 million per year for 20 years) for the ego boost of having a stadium named after it.
Since Citigroup received billions in bailout money, the American taxpayers are footing the naming rights tab.
I've never seen evidence that owning naming rights to a stadium improves a corporation's bottom line.
The buildings once called PSI Net Stadium, Enron Field and MCI Center all lasted longer than the companies who shelled out millions for their naming rights.
Naming rights are the case of runaway corporate ego. Big companies have shareholder money to throw around and generally have lapdog corporate boards providing "oversight."
A motivation for corporate sponsorships is for the high-flying executives (and their lapdog directors) to sit in fancy luxury boxes.
It's bad enough when corporate executives stick it to their stockholders. The stockholders can choose to dump the stock.
In the case of Citigroup, they stuck it to the American taxpayers. We don't have the option of asking for our money back. Congress blew that chance in 2008.
I'm not planning on hitting a Mets game anytime soon, but if I do, I expect really good tickets.
After all, I'm a corporate sponsor.
I'm not sure what happens if all 300 million of my fellow corporate sponsor wants to sit in luxury boxes at the same time. I watched a visionary named Alan Stein successfully build a privately owned baseball park in Lexington Ky., but generally I don't have a problem with cities and states financing stadiums.
As ESPN commentator Mike Wilbon pointed out on CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday (talking about the LeBron James circus), sports teams are a source of civic pride and identity.
Teams like the Baltimore Colts suddenly become the Indianapolis Colts and teams like the Cleveland Browns become the Baltimore Ravens when they are offered better facilities, tax breaks and local government support.
Citi field is an entirely different example. Its not only the city of New York paying for it. All of America's taxpayers, many whom will never visit New York in their lives, came up with $400 million of the money for the stadium naming rights. Citigroup would not have had $400 million to throw around unless the American people "lent" it to them.
Every time we see bailout money being spent on corporate ego boosts or bonuses like the kind that Goldman Sachs gave themselves, it kicks the American people in the face.
It reminds us that Wall Street, their lobbyists, and friends in Washington, played us for saps.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Continuing to do business with Citigroup and expecting them to appreciate what America did to bail them out is insanity.
People on Wall Street are never going to "get it."
There is only one way to stop the insanity.
Move your money.
Arianna Huffington and others at Huffington Post started a movement that is catching on like wildfire.
Getting people to move their money from "too big to fail" banks to banks in their local community.
Community banks lend money to businesses (like mine) on Main Street. I don't see many of them giving out multimillion dollar bonuses.
Move Your Money is more than an idea. It is now a tax deductible 501(c) foundation raising money to educate financial consumers.
I recently made a contribution to the foundation and encourage others to do the same.
You can make a donation, or learn more about Move Your Money at http://moveyourmoney.info/
I do business with five Kentucky owned community banks. None of them have baseball stadiums named after them.
Houston was able to find a sponsor to replace Enron. A city as big as New York should be able to find a sponsor that is not funded by the American taxpayers.
When you think about moving your money, think about Citi Field. And who is paying for it.
It's time to send them a message. Move Your Money.
To contribute to the Move Your Money campaign click here.
Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC is an award-winning financial columnist and Huffington Post Contributor.
You can read more about Don at www.donmcnay.com
McNay founded McNay Settlement Group, a structured settlement and financial consulting firm, in 1983, and Kentucky Guardianship Administrators LLC in 2000. You can read more about both at www.mcnay.com
McNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Hall of Distinguished Alumni of Eastern Kentucky University.
McNay has written two books. Most recent is Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win The Lottery
McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field.