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Top 5 ideas for a Nationals Park naming rights deal

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The Washington Nationals are officially preparing to sell the naming rights to Nationals Park to raise cash, hopefully for the Bryce Harper Extension Fund. We have some suggestions on how to do this right.

Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals baseball club just announced that they are going to try to sell the naming rights for their baseball stadium in D.C. that has been known as Nationals Park since it opened its gates in 2008.

The Nationals Park name is quite popular with fans and there is sure to be a backlash against this move, but the Nationals are in need of money to pay big stars like Bryce Harper and until their continuing TV deal drama is resolved this may be the team's best option for raising the extra millions it might take to stay competitive.

We don't know whether that extra money would be used to extend a star such as Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg, but before the Nationals can spend that money they need to find some rich company that is willing to pay for the privilege of slapping their name on the front of Nationals Park for a few decades in return for $10M or more a year. Luckily, the D.C. metro area is a rather wealthy and full of big companies flush with money.

After combing through combing through mountains of names and numbers, we are proud to present our list of the top five naming rights opportunities the Nationals ownership group should consider:

Buying Entity Stadium Name

#5

Pepco Holding, Inc

Pepco Park

About the buyer: Pepco Holdings is a regional power company that provides power to millions in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is based in D.C. and ranks 527th on the Fortune 500 list.

The plan here is to create a name that sounds almost exactly the Padres stadium (Petco Park) just so we can laugh at all the poor journalists messing up as they try to distinguish between the two names. This would admittedly be a terrible move in terms of branding value, but if the goal is creating entertainment value for the fans, this one would fit the bill. The Padres are locked into their current name for 11 more years, so that's how long this deal/joke should last for the Nats also. If fans are forced to put up with a terrible stadium name, why not make everyone else suffer too?

Buying Entity Stadium Name

#4

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Field

About the Buyer: Lockheed Martin is an aerospace and defense contractor based in Bethesda, Maryland. Ranked 64th on the Fortune 500 list.

There was no getting around the fact that one of the giant defense contractors in the region has to be considered. Not only does Lockheed Martin have more money than either General Dynamics or Northrop Grumman but its name sounds best on a stadium. Like the federal government, defense contractors have to look for positive publicity any place they can.

The money is not a big problem for Lockheed Martin since it gets over three quarters of it's business from the federal government. The company can just get the federal government to pay for these naming rights indirectly by adding just smidgen more bloat to the contract for the F-35 jet fighter.

Buying Entity Stadium Name

#3

U.S. Federal Government

U.S.A. Coliseum

About the Buyer: Go take a civics class.

The U.S. federal government is by far the biggest economic player in the D.C. region and boy does it have an image problem. Investing in tying its image to something that is as full of happiness like baseball would be a savvy move. Everybody already knows that the federal government wastes millions and millions every year, so why not spend some of that largess making the masses happy.

Critics of the federal government will likely try to brand the stadium as Pork Park, but fans won't care because the t-shirt cannons will have been replaced by mini catapults that throw loaves of fresh artisan bread into the crowd between innings and the racing presidents will be riding chariots pulled by ponies. The money from this deal would also bring the Nationals at least twice what any private company would be willing to pay because that's just how the federal government rolls.

Buying Entity Stadium Name

#2

Booz Allen Hamilton

Hamilton Field

About the Buyer: Booz Allen Hamilton is a giant consulting firm that employs around 14,000 people using federal government money and is ranked 475th on the Fortune 500 list.

This is for the fans that want the money from naming rights but don't want the stadium to feel overly commercialized. Naming the stadium Hamilton Field would be a nod to founding father Alexander Hamilton. To date, the only memorial Hamilton has is a statue in front of the Treasury Department while the Jefferson Memorial on the tidal basin is visited by millions every year. Now, obviously there would be a tacit understanding that the stadium is named after Carl Hamilton, the man best known for putting "willingness to subordinate one's own personal interest to that of the firm" into the company code of ethics in 1935, but both sides will let it slide because the real branding value will be created elsewhere.

Enter new Booz brand craft beers which will be sold at all concession stands in place of the current placeholders such as Coors Light and Miller Lite. It's a win for consumers, who get more access to better beer at the park. It's a win for Booz Allen Hamilton, who develop an income stream that is not entirely dependent on government spending and get a hefty helping of good will on top.

Buying Entity Stadium Name

#1

Under Armour

Bryce Harper Field

brought to you by Under Armour

About the Buyer: This maker of athletics wear is based in Baltimore and though it is only ranked 739th on the Fortune 500 list, they are up and coming.

Under Armour is no stranger to the branding game and they have already shown great creativity in making moves like giving top athletes an equity stake as part of endorsement deals. They already work with Bryce Harper and they need to leverage his star power to grow their market share vs industry giants like Nike.

Imagine this: Bryce Harper wants fame more than money, so Under Armour gives him what he wants by naming the stadium after him, knowing perfectly well that stars impact purchasing behavior in fans much more than the name of a stadium could ever do. This would permanently tie the Under Armour name to Bryce Harper in the minds of even casual fans. This also cements Bryce Harper as a household name for decades and Under Armour will make more money the bigger he gets. Naturally as part of the deal, the Nationals extend Bryce Harper through 2030 financed in part by the money provided by Under Armour.

The Nationals win because not only can they afford to pay Harper $50M a year but the mega-deal would provide the leverage needed for him to stay in D.C. instead of playing in Yankees Stadium for $55M a year. Other teams can bid more money, but none of them will be able to name their stadium after him for as long as he plays there.

That's our top five ideas for the naming rights to Nationals Park.

If we missed any great ideas, let us know in the comments. We also need ideas for what to do with poor Allen of Booz Allen Hamilton. It may be critical to making that particular proposal work.

We don't know how long it will take before Nationals Park is renamed, so let's enjoy the park in its purest form while we can. Regular season baseball is coming soon!