Yanks, Bank of America terminate talks

NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees and Bank of America ended months of negotiations on a long-term, high-profile sponsorship agreement, fallout from the financial industry's decision to accept aid from the federal government.

While the sides never discussed naming rights to the team's new $1.5 billion stadium, they had talked about the possibility of a 20-year deal that would have included signage, special events and tickets.

"With the downturn in the economy and the effect on financial institutions including government support of those institutions, we have determined that it is better to enter into a traditional business arrangement with a financial institution," Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion said.

Bank of America has been the team's official bank since 1994, according to spokesman Joe Goode.

"We still see tremendous value in the Yankees both in terms of a business partnership and a marketing platform, so it's our plan to explore alternative ways to maintain our business relationship," Goode said.

New York and BOA have seen repeated congressional criticism of Citigroup's $400 million, 20-year agreement for naming rights to the Mets' new ballpark, Citi Field. Both New York stadiums open in April.

"We recognize that our decision not to pursue a long-term partnership with the Yankees reflects a lost revenue opportunity for our company, however these are unprecedented times that perhaps call for some very difficult decisions," Goode said.

He estimated that each dollar spent by BOA with the Yankees and similar sponsorships generates a return of 10 times in revenue and threefold in income. Goode said spending sponsorship money with the Yankees had boosted BOA's consumer banking, commercial lending and wealth management businesses.

Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost expects to negotiate a lower-level deal with a bank that would include cash-machine rights in the new stadium. He said Bank of America could become involved in those talks.

"It just doesn't seem like this is the time to do something special with a financial institution," Trost said. "There are so many teams being criticized. In the face of that, to do a deal, we would face additional criticism."

At one time, the Yankees and BOA had discussed a naming rights deal for an area of the ballpark, such as a gate. The new Yankee Stadium will have an Audi Yankees Club, Budweiser Hall of Fame Lounge, Delta Sky 360 Suite, H&R Block Suite Level, Jim Beam Suite Lounge, Ketel One Lounge and Mohegan Sun Sports Bar.