March 19, 2007
The Texas Rangers announced the cessation of its relationship with Ameriquest Mortgage Company. Its stadium will now be known as â€œRangers Ballpark In Arlingtonâ€? instead of â€œAmeriquest Field.â€?
As a fan, I can accept corporate sponsorship of stadiums, but I was never thrilled about the Rangers associating with the nationâ€™s top sub-prime lender. Not that sub-prime lending is inherently unethical, despite its reputation. Folks with bad credit need loans, too. No, the problem is that when the naming deal was announced, Ameriquest was already under investigation by several state attorneys general for overcharges and other predatory lending practices. The investigation expanded to 49 states plus the District of Columbia, and in early 2006 Ameriquest agreed to a $335 million settlement. The company had also paid fines for prior transgressions.
To be sure, any renaming would have caused a little anguish because it eliminated the real sponsors of the stadium, the citizens of Arlington. Allying with a good corporate citizen with local ties would have eased the pain. Naming the stadium after a SoCal-based company of dubious standing did the opposite.
Now, with the sub-prime mortgage market in tatters and several lenders going belly-up, Ameriquest probably wishes paying the settlement was its only problem. Whatever its future, Iâ€™m glad its affiliation with the Rangers has ended. Despite a Ranger press release to the contrary, I expect another sponsorship before long, hopefully a more palatable one.
Incidentally, Ameriquestâ€™s founder and majority owner of its holding company is Roland Arnall. Arnall has been the most successful fundraiser for President George Bush since 2002. In 2006, after the announcement of the $335 million settlement, he was appointed the US ambassador to The Netherlands.
Posted by Lucas at March 19, 2007 07:07 PM