In tomorrow’s Post, business writer Thomas Heath tackles an interesting dilemma about the Nationals: With their value at an all-time high, when should they cash in and sell the naming rights to Nationals Park?
The stadium, opened in 2008, is one of the few remaining stadiums without a naming-rights deal. Eleven of 30 major league teams have not sold naming rights, among them Nationals Park, Fenway Park, Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium.
Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College and an expert in sports business, told Heath that the Lerners are likely waiting for the right opportunity. The stadium was built during the recession and the owners don’t want to rush a lucrative opportunity just for short-term gains, he said.
Zimbalist estimated that a Nationals Park naming-rights deal would bring $10 million to $15 million a year for 20 years or more. With a winning team of marquee stars such as Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, and big-name players like Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, the Nationals could receive a hefty boost to their bottom line with naming rights as their TV rights dispute with MASN drags on for over a year.
The most recent massive baseball deal was in 2009, when CitiGroup agreed to a reported $400 million deal to put its name on the New York Mets ballpark, which came under scrutiny because the financial services company received government bailout money during the financial crisis. The Washington Redskins signed a seminal, $205 million, 27-year naming-rights deal with FedEx in 1999.
In the story, Heath lists companies often most frequently mentioned, such as hospitality group Marriott Worldwide, financial firm Capital One, Chevy Chase-based insurance giant Geico, Baltimore-based Under Armour and the big local defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.