Officials might rename subway stations near CitiField

NEW YORK -- Transit officials hope to profit from the record-breaking sale of naming rights for the New York Mets' new ballpark by offering to change the names of nearby stations, according to a spokesman.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials plan to negotiate with Citigroup Inc., which is reportedly paying an average of more than $20 million annually to name the Queens stadium CitiField, spokesman Tom Kelly told the Daily News for Tuesday editions.

Two stations carry the name of the current arena, Shea Stadium. One is a stop on the Long Island Rail Road, the other is on the 7 subway line.

MTA chairman Peter Kalikow had previously ruled out renaming landmarks like Grand Central Terminal, but board member Mitchell Pally said the move was a reasonable step to prevent fare increases.

Gene Russianoff, staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, argued that sales of naming rights could go too far.

"What's next? Will we give riders directions to take the Bayer Aspirin IRT to Walt Disney's Times Square and then switch to the McDonald's 7 line to the Citigroup stop in Queens -- which also happens to be the stop for the Mets' stadium?" he asked.

A spokeswoman for Citigroup said the company had no comment. The CitiField deal set a record for U.S stadium naming rights, topping the approximately $10 million annually the NFL's Houston Texans receive from Reliant Energy to call their home Reliant Stadium.

The new $800 million stadium is being built next to its predecessor. The 45,000-seat ballpark is set to open in 2009.