SBD/15/Franchises

SEEKING SWEETER BANKING DEAL, CELTICS MAY CUT FLEET

          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).

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