Amid intense criticism from local Holocaust survivors and outraged season ticket holders, the New Meadowlands Stadium group has ended talks with Allianz, the Munich-based company that insured Auschwitz gas chambers and had direct dealings with Hitler during World War II.
The company had been bidding for naming rights of the future home of the New York Giants and Jets, and it reportedly had offered between $20 million and $30 million a year for the rights. Though the Meadowlands company would not disclose a reason for its decision to break off the negotiations, the Giants and Jets will now be looking elsewhere for stadium sponsorship.
"The New Meadowlands Stadium, LLC is no longer in discussions with Allianz for a naming rights partnership," said Mark Lamping, president and CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium, in a statement Friday afternoon. "We are continuing discussions with other potential partners for the new stadium and look forward to the summer 2010 opening of this new icon for our region," the statement continued.
"The New York Giants and the New York Jets heard the concerns of their fans and others and made the right decision to end negotiations with Allianz for the naming rights of their new stadium," Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement given to The Jewish Week Friday afternoon.
"The decision shows sensitivity to the fact that the greater New York area is home to a large number of Holocaust survivors and their families and World War II veterans, who live with the painful memories of that time."
Allianz has paid millions in restitution compensation to Holocaust survivors for its past associations, and some Jewish fans and scholars felt that the current leadership of the company should not be held responsible for deeds conducted by the company more than 60 years ago.
Others, however, were contemplating a boycott of the stadium if it bore the Allianz name, which they viewed as a symbol of Holocaust brutality.
"If you look at the sign [atop the stadium], it’s going to serve as a reminder of one of the worst tragedies that happened," said Giants season ticket holder Charles Herman, 58.
His friend Jack Malcolm, 57, a devoted Jets fan, agreed.
"I would never set foot into that stadium again," he said.