Responding to apparent political pressure, a statement issued yesterday by the Port Authority read that it had determined "the benefits of this sponsorship were not worth the potential negative impact on our long-term goals or reputation as responsible stewards of the region's infrastructure."
News of the reported multi-year deal had spurred a backlash of criticism from preservationists and civic leaders.
Axcess Partners Group, a New York-based firm that bills itself as a partnership development company, was retained by the Port Authority to solicit sponsors.
"We were assured by the Port Authority at the highest levels that we had all the approvals we needed," said Bill Koenigsberg, CEO of Horizon Media, which as Geico's media planning and buying shop represented the insurer in its negotiations with Axcess.
While no figures were ever confirmed, reportedly Geico was to have paid between $1.6 million and $3.2 million for rights to post a "Drive Safely" message above the tollbooth plaza and position images of its famed Gecko spokes-character near cashier portals for at least the next two years.
An estimated 300,000 motorists pass through those gates daily.