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SEEKING SWEETER BANKING DEAL, CELTICS MAY CUT FLEET
Published September 15, 1997
The Celtics said Saturday they are "on the verge of severing their relationship with Fleet Financial Group in favor of archrival BankBoston Corp. or Providence-based Citizens Financial Group," according to Tina Cassidy of the BOSTON GLOBE. The move would be a "public relations blow to the region's largest bank, particularly given that the team plays in the FleetCenter, an arena that cost the bank" $30M for naming rights. The Celtics say they are "unhappy" with Fleet because many of the bankers in its sports lending division with ties to the team have resigned after the John Spano incident; the team also "wants a larger marketing contract than Fleet was allegedly willing to provide" after the team signed Rick Pitino. Source close to the situation say the team may be trying to get more from the bank than its $50M "borrowing business is worth." They add the team is looking for $6M worth of marketing over five years, while it "generates only $250,000 in revenue per year for the bank." Celtics Chair Paul Gaston has met with BankBoston Chair Charles Gifford, and BankBoston had the team's account for about 10 years before Shawmut took it over in the early '90s. Citizens Chair Lawrence Fish is also eyeing the account (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/14). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jeffrey Krasner values the account at $120M. Fleet Dir of Corporate Marketing & Communications Anne Finucane: "You can see where it would be very attractive to someone that didn't have the name Fleet in the arena, but our name is everywhere in that building" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/15).