Selling naming rights can be tricky business, and even though naming rights to Nationals Park may be at a peak valuation, principal owner Mark Lerner says there’s no active sales effort in place.
When Nationals Park opened, the naming-rights market was in the toilet. Since then, the team has made an effort or two to sell naming rights. Now that the Nats are an established draw, it would seem logical that the team would make another effort to sell those rights. Not so fast:
“Now isn’t the time to start looking,” Mark Lerner said before last Friday’s home opener. “We haven’t actively been looking in the past few years. If something starts to happen, that’s great. It’s not really the time, though. It’s nice to have it. It’s not something we’re rushing to do. The great thing about the way we’ve approached it, we’ve kept all of our major naming rights opportunities in the stadium—all the levels, the gates, the center field plaza. We still have all our inventory.”
Selling naming rights is a challenge. On the one hand, a naming-rights deal can certainly establish a ballpark locally: Target Field was a natural partnership between a huge Minnesota retailer and the Twins. On the other hand, Global Life’s purchase of naming rights from the Texas Rangers seems a little crass: Global Life Park doesn’t really trip off the tongue.
Still, money talks. And with the Nats on the rise, selling those naming rights will surely be tempted at some point for the Lerners.
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