Ever since it opened in 2008, Nationals park has been without a corporate sponsor. But as the Nationals get more competitive and receive more national attention, is it time to cash in on the naming rights?
The Washington Post’s Thomas Heath recently wrote an article on this exact topic. Obviously, when a team is losing like the Nationals did in the early years of Nationals Park, they receive very little attention. The Nationals were 19th in the MLB in attendance in 2008, followed by a 24th place finish in 2009 and 23rd in 2010. Apathy at the park was matched by apathy on TV: as recently as 2011, the Nationals were second-to-last in baseball in ratings. With no one at the games, no national TV games, and no one watching the games on MASN(2), the rights to Nationals Park’s name were relatively worthless. However, that has all changed, just like the Nationals have.
The Nationals won 98 games last season and claimed the NL East title behind Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, two of the sport’s most electrifying young stars. The team is now set up to contend and receive copious national attention for the foreseeable future. This season, according to MLB.com, the Nationals play in 14 nationally televised games, while the average team only has 10. This drastic increase over the past two years has skyrocketed the value of Nationals Park. According to sports economist Andrew Zimbalist in the Washington Post article, the Nationals could be looking at a deal approaching 20-years and $300 million. With the team’s payroll increasing, it might be helpful to have some extra cash, despite the Lerner’s deep pockets.
As to who might name it, there’s nothing substantive. The Post speculates on some DC-area companies involved in sports or the Nationals: Under Armour, GEICO, Capital One, and Marriott, among others.
What do you think? Should the Nationals sell their name? How would you feel going to a game at GEICO Park or Under Armour Stadium? Tell us in the comments!