The Washington Redskins have changed their letterhead to refer to the team's stadium in Landover as Redskins Stadium instead of Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.
The 80,116-seat facility, which opened in 1997 and was named after the late owner of the team, already has undergone one offseason overhaul and is in the process of another.
When Daniel M. Snyder purchased the team in May from the Cooke estate for an NFL-record $800 million, he said he likely would sell naming rights to the stadium. Such sales are commonplace at modern sports facilities and can provide teams with millions of dollars in additional yearly revenue.
Letters sent recently to Redskins season ticket holders were written on the new letterhead, although the season tickets themselves still refer to the facility as Jack Kent Cooke Stadium.
A spokesman for Snyder said that, while the shift may be a precursor to the sale of the naming rights, Cooke's name officially has not been removed from the stadium. The name of the stadium remains Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, members of the Snyder group said. However, they acknowledged that they have begun referring to the facility as Redskins Stadium in some instances.
One member of the Snyder group called the two names "synonymous." Snyder could not be reached today.
The Snyder associate, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified, said: "The name Redskins Stadium has been used, but there's no systematic effort to take Cooke's name off the stadium. The name of the stadium today is Jack Kent Cooke Stadium. We've made it clear we're exploring selling the naming rights to the stadium, and we've also made it clear Cooke's name should continue to be associated with the stadium in some way."
Asked whether the naming rights to the stadium, which opened in September 1997, could be sold in time for the upcoming season, the member of the Snyder group said: "Anything is possible, but nothing is on the front burner."
Cooke died in April 1997. His son, former team president John Kent Cooke, announced at the funeral that the stadium would be named for his father.
Snyder and his partners officially completed their $800 million purchase of the team and stadium from the Cooke estate earlier this month, having outbid John Cooke and others for the franchise.
Snyder has made it clear since the sale was approved by NFL owners in May that he would consider selling the naming rights to generate additional revenue. He hired marketing executive David Cope from the Baltimore Ravens to assist in that endeavor. Snyder often has praised the Cooke family's stewardship of the team, and raised the possibility of leaving Cooke's name on the stadium even if the naming rights were to be sold.
Snyder repeatedly has said that he will not change the team's nickname, which offends some Native Americans.
The early stages of the Snyder era have been a whirlwind of change. He fired approximately 25 employees, mostly in the stadium operations, public relations and marketing departments. He angered Ravens owner Art Modell by hiring Cope. Modell filed a grievance with the NFL over the Cope hiring, and later complained to the league about subsequent contact between the Redskins and two other Ravens employees.
Snyder ordered the inside of Redskin Park, the team's Northern Virginia practice facility, to be painted bright new colors, and had a new artificial turf practice field installed. He fired the team's public relations director and then hired a new one, only to lose him a few days later when he accepted an offer to return to his old job.
Charley Casserly stepped aside as general manager and agreed to serve the remaining two seasons on his contract as a consultant to Snyder, the NFL's youngest team owner at age 34. Snyder said he had planned to keep both Casserly and Coach Norv Turner in their current jobs, but determined that the two could not coexist. Snyder kept Turner, giving him additional responsibilities, and hired former San Francisco 49ers executive Vinny Cerrato to serve as the Redskins' director of player personnel.
Remaking the club's scouting department under Cerrato is still to come, and Snyder will hire a team president in the next few months.
Of the changes, Hall of Fame quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, now one of the team's broadcasters, said: "It's good to see his enthusiasm. I like him. I've been impressed. I'm impressed he's been willing to make some changes. His thing is, `Don't tell me why it can't be done. Tell me how it can be done.' He's positive. He sees no reason why it can't turn around now. It's an infectious attitude. It gets you excited."
Jurgensen has become an informal adviser to Snyder, but said he would not entertain a formal position with the team.
"I've got a job," Jurgensen said. "He's hiring young people. He's not hiring old people."
Veteran Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, who is five years older than Snyder and began his 17th training camp with the team today, called it a "painful" day when some of his friends in the club's front office were fired. But he, too, said Snyder is invigorating the franchise.
"Mr. Snyder, as well as Norv, have made it clear they're not taking no for an answer," Green said. "That's what the doctor ordered."