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Mets, Coke strike a corporate sponsorship deal

The Coca-Cola Polar Bear and Mr. Met pose

The Coca-Cola Polar Bear and Mr. Met pose for a photos during the New York Mets And Coca-Cola To Highlight New Landmark Announcement At The New York Stock Exchange Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Dec. 7, 2015 in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Brad Barket

Rare is the event of sufficient magnitude to attract two iconic figures such as Mr. Met and the Coca-Cola Polar Bear.

But there they were first thing Monday morning, overseeing the Opening Bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange.

Other representatives of the Mets and Coke showed up, too, to mark the announcement of a new sponsorship deal between the team and beverage company.

What makes the sponsorship unusual is the extent to which it has attracted the attention of fans. And the reason for that is what Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon called “a change of the tide” in what had been Citi Field’s most visible corporate partnership.

For the stadium’s first seven seasons, a large Pepsi-Cola sign loomed over the upper deck in rightfield, whose seating area widely was known as the Pepsi Porch.

Not anymore. Wilpon would not say what the new name will be — “I think we get to use that in a different announcement,” he said. But if Coke’s name is in it, that figures to bring added attention, and thus value, to the company.

“Our broadcasters on TV and on radio did such a good job of making that, the notoriety with the name,” Wilpon said of the Pepsi Porch. “I think we’ll come up with a good name and the same thing will happen here.

“But I love it that the fans like it . . . It makes it cool when the ball goes up there. That porch was made to resemble what the old Tiger Stadium had, when it actually hangs over [the field] a little bit.”

The only thing Monday’s news release announcing the deal said about the porch is that there would be a “Coca-Cola themed seating area in rightfield.”

Coke will sell commemorative cans marking the Mets’ 2015 National League pennant.

The executives directly involved in the deal said it dated to April, before the Mets proved themselves on the field. Still, it is emblematic of the Mets’ increasing popularity.

“I’m thrilled that they have the confidence in us that they want to be partners with us for this length of time,” Wilpon said. (The length of the deal was not announced.) “It shows you how much Coke wanted it, to take it away from Pepsi.”

Wilpon said of the rising Mets tide that “you can feel it” when dealing with potential corporate partners.

“There’s definitely an upswing in the type of clientele that are interested,” he said.

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