Redskins Stadium officially became FedEx Field yesterday, teaming the prestigious Washington NFL football franchise with the world's largest express transportation company in a $205 million, 27-year naming-rights deal.
Washington Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder made the announcement on the stadium field prior to yesterday's game against the New York Giants. Federal Express founder and chairman Frederick W. Smith and Michael Glenn, the company's executive vice president for market development who negotiated the deal, also attended.
"We looked at a lot of other stadiums, but Washington looked good to us for several reasons," Smith said. "The Redskins are one of the legendary franchises in sports. And Washington is not only a good market, but every embassy here we do business with. It made sense from a global perspective."
Smith said one of the biggest draws was the National Football League's television audience, which has a wide reach.
"In the era of the Internet and 500 cable TV channels . . . the television reach of the NFL has the demographic of an audience which makes shipping decisions," Smith said.
The name change comes after Snyder removed the name of late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke from the two-year-old stadium, renaming it Redskins Stadium in July. Snyder, who had said at the time he purchased the team that he intended to sell the stadium's naming rights, reached a tentative agreement with Memphis-based Federal Express last month. Now there are company signs in each corner of the stadium.
Glenn and Redskins President Steve Baldacci said the deal provides Federal Express with a "tasteful" yet broad array of marketing vehicles in partnership with the Redskins. They include a 12-foot-high, 3,000-foot windscreen, bearing the company's name and corporate colors, to be constructed around the entire circumference of the top of the stadium.
"You won't miss that this is FedEx Field," Glenn said.
The agreement also includes television and radio commercials as well as stadium end zone signage and rotational signs. Federal Express also gets 80 seats for each home game for company employees and customers. Federal Express already leases one stadium luxury suite and does not plan to increase that, Glenn said.
"There's going to be a lot of Internet, a lot of customer relationships and [it] gives us the opportunity for a great deal of direct marketing," Snyder said.
Baldacci said Federal Express and the Redskins were introduced through Redskins minority owner Fred Drasner, who is a friend of Smith's and also an investor in Snyder Communications Inc., the Bethesda-based marketing company that Snyder founded.
Snyder purchased the Redskins for $800 million last July from the estate of Cooke, who died in April 1997. While Cooke's name is no longer on the stadium, Baldacci said his name is honored elsewhere in the 80,166-seat facility, in photographs and on a sign in the stadium's main bowl.