Should banks spend their bailout money on sports sponsorships?

By Melissa Hankins

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - More questions are surfacing about how some of our nation's biggest banks are spending their bailout money.

Two members of congress are upset that Citigroup spent 400-million dollars to buy the naming rights to this new stadium being built for the New York Mets.

Citigroup got 45-billion dollars in taxpayer money, but says - none of that money will be used for the naming rights.

Bank of America couldn't say Wednesday whether any of its bailout money will be used for future sports sponsorships.

Right now, it pays $7.5 million a year for the right to splash it's name all over the Panther's stadium.

But if the bank were to give up those naming rights, city leaders say Charlotte would suffer.

The Charlotte Regional Sports Commission's Jeff Beaver says, "sports sponsorships do a lot more than just put Bank of America, for instance, or Wachovia, for instance, in front of people. There [is] millions of dollars of economic impact, created because we have a Bank of America stadium. Because we have a Wachovia Championship."

Beaver says if banks were to pull out of Charlotte sports, it would hurt the local economy. And advertising expert David Oakley says it would also hurt Bank of America's bottom line.

"To give up advertising is the worst thing any company can do because at a time like this when people are fighting for market share, why would you want people to forget who you are," Oakley says. "This is the time to fight and to grow."

And Bank of America representative Joe Goode says sponsorships, "enable us to generate the required earnings to fulfill our obligations, including those with the U.S. taxpayer."