LI Ducks' ballpark loses name; county loses revenue
Goodbye Citibank Park.
The home field of the Long Island Ducks baseball team is now officially a ballpark with no corporate name. For the time being, it will go by the nondescript moniker "Suffolk County Sports Park."
Also gone is the $2.3 million Suffolk received in the last decade from Citigroup for naming rights at the 6,002-seat Central Islip field.
The county is spending $7,600 to cover the Citibank sign with a blue and white vinyl banner. To take it down would cost $35,000, said Chief Deputy County Executive Chris Kent.
Kent said the county solicited 80 companies last year and got 20 responses, but no deal was struck. Then the county hired marketing firm Petry Sports and Entertainment of New York City, on commission, but had no luck.
"We don't know why there's a reluctance," said Kent. "We think it's a tremendous opportunity. In the first 10 years, the Ducks had 4.3 million in attendance."
The county even tried to interest insurance company Aflac - whose ads have featured a duck and former Yankee great Yogi Berra - but the company had no interest. As a last-ditch move, Suffolk approached Citigroup, whose contract ran out March 31, about leaving the sign up for the season at a cut rate. Kent said Citigroup declined.
Citigroup signaled a pullout amid last year's economic meltdown and public anger over its $400-million naming deal for the new Mets stadium while taking federal bailout money.
Now the county is enlisting Ducks owner Frank Boulton's help. "It's a difficult time for all naming rights," said Boulton. The team has sold out all 70 advertising spaces inside the park.