D.C. United is finalizing a deal with Leidos Inc., a titan in government contracting, to replace Volkswagen as the MLS club’s primary sponsor, the Insider has learned.
The Reston-based firm, which operated as Science Applications International Corp. before splitting into two companies last year, would display its logo on team uniforms and other platforms. United officials have been aiming to secure a sponsor before the season opener March 8 against the Columbus Crew at RFK Stadium.
At a fan event Saturday, the club unveiled newly designed uniforms without a sponsor’s logo on the front of the shirt. Most MLS teams sport corporate sponsors on their uniforms — a standard revenue device throughout the soccer world.
United executives said that, per team policy, they would not comment on business matters. Furthermore, other front-office contacts declined to confirm the organization was even engaged in talks with a specific company. A Leidos spokeswoman did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
People familiar with the situation, however, said the sides have been discussing a five-year agreement at a figure consistent with United’s pact with Volkswagen. The German-automaker paid an estimated $2.8 million annually between 2008 and 2012 before agreeing to a lower — but undisclosed — figure last season. Volkswagen, whose U.S. headquarters are located in Herndon, declined to exercise a contract option with United in December.
SAIC reported $11 billion in annual revenue before the spin-off last year. Leidos (pronounced LIE-dos) offers science and technology for national security, engineering and health sectors. It employs 23,000 around the world, and works with, among others, the U.S. departments of Defense and Homeland Security. In the split, McLean-based SAIC retained government services, information technology and financial analysis.
Without SAIC’s name recognition, Leidos is seeking to build brand identity locally and nationally, business observers told the Insider. Leidos has also apparently been drawn to soccer’s global presence: United qualified for the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League with Mexican, Central American and Caribbean opponents; the club is eyeing future postseason tours after visiting Indonesia in December; and United investor Erick Thohir owns Italian club Inter Milan and is a prominent figure in the Indonesian business market.
United’s talks with Leidos are unrelated to naming rights for the proposed stadium at Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington. Club officials have had separate conversations about venue branding, should the project come to fruition.
Leidos drew its name from “kaleidoscope.”
Other jersey sponsors in MLS …
Chicago Fire: Quaker (food products)
Chivas USA: Corona (beer)
Columbus Crew: Barbasol (shaving cream)
FC Dallas: AdvoCare (nutrition and skin care)
Los Angeles Galaxy: Herbalife (nutrition and skin care)
Montreal Impact: Bank of Montreal (financial services)
New England Revolution: United HealthCare (managed health care)
New York Red Bulls: Red Bull (energy drink)
Philadelphia Union: Bimbo (bakery)
Portland Timbers: Alaska Airlines (transportation)
Real Salt Lake: LifeVantage (dietary supplement)
Seattle Sounders: Xbox (video gaming)
Sporting Kansas City: Ivy Funds (financial services)
Toronto FC: Bank of Montreal (financial services)
Vancouver Whitecaps: Bell Canada (telecommunications)
The Colorado Rapids, Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes are seeking a jersey sponsor for the upcoming season.