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fake Barclays-Atlantic Ave New York MTA subway sign
fake Barclays-Atlantic Ave New York MTA subway sign

Desperate times have led to desperate measures in New York City: Barclays has bought the naming rights to a subway station in Brooklyn, the New York Times reported.

Sporting arenas have been selling the naming rights to stadiums for more than 30 years, but selling a public-transit station takes it to a whole new level.

The British bank is paying $4 million — $200,000 a year for 20 years — for the rights to rename the Atlantic Avenue station, Brooklyn’s equivalent of Grand Central Station.

The money will go to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the subway system with some financial help from the city, and is facing a record budget deficit of nearly $2 billion.

The corporatization of the nation’s largest subway system has caused some outrage, but you almost had to see it coming: First ads for the New York Smokers’ Quitline and Continental Airlines on the subway turnstiles, then whole subway trains wrapped in VitaminWater ads.

This escalating corporatization has left New Yorkers to wonder what the city will pimp out next in the name of fiscal crisis.

“This is a Manhattan-Bound A Train. The next stop is: Arby's Big Beef n' Cheddar Chambers Street Station,” one poster wrote on Gothamist.com, a blog about New York City.

The “42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal Hanes Wait-Till-We-Get-Our-Hands-On-You” Station, another poster wrote.

It’s funny, but it could happen: The MTA told the Times it’s open to any naming agreements that can raise funds for the transit system.

Where will it end? Will we have entire conversations in corporate-sponsorship-speak?

“Yeah, you want to take the American Express train, get off at Bank of America station, walk two blocks and you’re at Wall — I mean, Wal-Mart — Street,” you might hear a New Yorker telling a tourist on the street.

Of course, the situation may take care of itself before the Big Apple becomes the Big iPod : Someone will get shot in Barclays station or vandals will Sharpie male body parts into their logo, leading executives to realize that this probably wasn't such a good idea.

It reminds me of the original tagline for “Time Out New York” magazine about things to do around town:

“Welcome to New York. Now Get Out.”

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