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NEW YORK CITY-Officials broke ground this morning on the new stadium for the New York Mets, after weekend reports that Citigroup has taken naming rights to the stadium, which is slated to open in 2009. Shea Stadium will be renamed Citi Field. Citigroup’s deal breaks former naming rights records.

The financial services company has signed a 20-year deal for more than $20 million per year. Citigroup has the ability to extend the deal for up to 35 years, according to reports. This deal is almost double the previous largest deal for the naming rights if a stadium; which was set by Reliant Energy when it agreed to pay $10 million a year for the National Football League’s Houston Texans. The stadium is called Reliant Stadium and opened in 2002.

“We are proud to be a partner with a company that shares our values,” said Fred Wilpon, CEO and chairman of the Mets, at a press conference this morning. As part of the partnership, Citigroup and the Mets have given a significant donation to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. In the new stadium, the main entrance will be dedicated to Jackie Robinson. The rotunda, with the former Brooklyn Dodger’s player’s name, will include a statue of the man and the phrase, “A life is not important except for the impact it has on others lives.”

Vice chairman of Citigroup Lou Kaden said at the press conferences that there are three reasons the company decided to join forces with the Mets. “The first is we love New York. Secondly, we love the Mets; we think the value the Mets express on the field, off the field match the values we have and third, and in some ways most important, we have enormous regards for the Sterling family.”

In January the Empire State Development Corp. board approved general plans for the development of both the Yankee’s and Mets’ new stadiums, as reported by GlobeSt.com.

In April plans were revealed for the seven-level, open-air park with capacity for 45,000 fans within the 1.26-million-sf facility. Additionally, 8,800 parking spaces on-site and adjacent to the site will be added as well as 3,680 spaces in lots in the surrounding area.

The new ballpark is being developed by Mets Development Co. LLC and was designed by HOK Sport. HOK has designed or renovated 13 Major League ballparks. Hunt-Bovis, a joint venture of Hunt Construction Group and Bovis Lend Lease, will manage construction.

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