The Nats tried to sell naming rights before the ballpark’s opening in 2008, but found no takers: as you’ll recall, the economy was in a downturn, and the team didn’t exactly tear things up on any level during an RFK Stadium run. Today, things are different: the Lerner family has certainly shown a commitment to invest in DC baseball, the team is popular, and the economy — especially the sports-marketing economy — is in much better shape.
So we have the Nats ownership making another run at a deal. They have some new partners in the quest — executive search and advisory firm Korn Ferry and MLB Advanced Media — and with the team preparing to host the 2018 MLB All-Star Game, there’s lots of local and national exposure possible. From the Washington Business Journal:
“We want to find the right partner that will really be integrated in what we’re doing here,” said Valerie Camillo, Nationals chief revenue and marketing officer. “This is not just a signage play or a media play. We think this will be compelling to both traditional and nontraditional sports sponsors.
The Nationals re-enter the naming-rights marketplace at the same time Monumental Sports & Entertainment has aligned with MP & Silva, Scout Sports & Entertainment, and Bungalow Media & Entertainment to market the naming rights for what is now Verizon Center in D.C. There is also common ownership between the two entities; Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner is part of the Monumental ownership group.
But Camillo insisted the Nationals are selling “a differentiated offering.”
“We know there are other options in our market, but we are not focusing on that,” she said. “We will have a deeply tailored package, and we don’t believe it’s really an apples-to-apples comparison.”
Of course, given that many recent naming-rights deals have come from financial institutions, you can bet the large banks will be first in the queue for pitches.