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Citigroup's naming deal with Suffolk expiring

Troubled Citigroup may preserve its $400-million deal to put the bank's name on the new Mets stadium, but the chances of Suffolk County's keeping the bank's name atop Citibank Park -- the Central Islip home of the Long Island Ducks -- might not be as good.

Citigroup, under congressional fire for having its Citi Field deal while getting federal bailout aid, is in the last year of a similar but smaller 10-year naming pact that has netted Suffolk $2.3 million. Suffolk is in the process of drafting a new request for proposals seeking bids for a new naming deal. The current deal expires after the upcoming season.

Though county officials say they have not heard a word from the troubled bank, Ducks owner Frank Boulton has informed the county that Citibank has canceled 20 season tickets to Ducks games for the upcoming season.

Boulton, reached later, said Citibank not only canceled the seats but sponsorship of the pocket schedule holder, both expenses incurred on an annual basis. The bank, he added, still has its luxury suite that can accommodate 20 and a field sign, both part of a long-term contract that ends after this season.

Citigroup released a statement Friday that said: "Citibank is pleased with our relationship with the Long Island Ducks and Suffolk County. We have not yet begun to evaluate and/or renegotiate renewal terms of the contract but look forward to begin those conversations."

Suffolk is prepared to shop the naming rights regardless of whether Citigroup is interested in renewing.

"We have no indication either way if Citigroup is going to be interested or not, but we have to go out and give everybody a shot anyway," said Jim Morgo, Suffolk's chief deputy county executive. "In this economic climate, hopefully we'll still have some good competition."

The ballpark's naming-rights contract originally was signed a decade ago with Uniondale-based European American Bank. Citigroup purchased the bank in 2001 and absorbed the contract.

County officials, meanwhile, are closing in on an agreement with the Ducks on a new 10-year lease to keep them based in Central Islip.

Morgo said he has been negotiating with Boulton with the goal of finalizing a contract before this season begins, adding that their lawyers will meet soon to draft the new deal.

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